Back to the Congo

Full Title Back to the Congo
ISBN 0689121644
ISBN13 9780689121647
Publisher New York : Atheneum ; c1992.
Authors Stacey Knecht
Overview Fascinated from childhood by the gifts and stories of her enigmatic uncle, a Catholic missionary in the Belgian Congo, Lieve Joris set off for Africa to retrace his steps in what is now Zaire. Back to the Congo, her vivid account of this journey, examines relentlessly the psychology and scenery of a country of unreconciled cities and peoples, a hash of post-colonial socialism and corruption under the regime of the ubiquitous President Mobutu, the site of both Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River. Joris's Zaire comes palpably and sensually alive on her passage out aboard the Fabiolaville with a handful of Europeans, tension rising in the gossipy racism of perpetual passengers Mr. and Mrs. Dewaeles and Father Bronek's riotous drinking and dancing, his obsessive nostalgia for Poland and reluctant obsession with Zaire. Landing near her late uncle's Bienga mission where he has attained a cult status, Joris moves south to the capital Kinshasa to explore its sprawling poverty and wild entertainment districts with Francois, a French biker whose Yamaha is covered with Zairian drawings. She then travels by black Mercedes into the rainforests of Gbadolite for the memorial service of Mama Mobutu, and travels out with Citoyen Bondo, the baron of Yolo who was backed by Mobutu during Africanization when his single bicycle blossomed into multiple plantations and who is charmed by Joris's familiarity with Zairian top forty. Drawn inevitably toward the magnetic darkness of the Kisangani of Conrad's Kurtz and Naipaul's Salim, Joris books passage on the Ebeya, a boat dragging barges packed with three thousand people, a floating village in constant danger of raids by the canoes of the riverbank villages it passes. In place of the taut gloom and chaotic brilliance of the literary Kisangani, she finds a waning port town, flavored with the bitter disillusionment of Zairian intellectuals like Kadima, a sociologist whose coveted European education h
Subjects Africa - Travel Essays & Descriptions
Congo - Travel


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