|Old People |
DRC is a hell of a place. I have a few friends who lived through the war.
Dawie, a South African, fought as a mercenary. He later became a miner in Rwanda, was fired for his end-stage alcoholism, and disappeared back to SA.
Tom, an American photographer, was nearly chopped to pieces by a genocidal mob, but fled to his Land Cruiser and escaped, leaving a village full of his friends to be massacred. There was nothing else he could have done. He also talked a lot about having seen small Congolese children who had been driven insane.
Veronique, a girl I dated, was an ethnic Tutsi who'd escaped the FDLR and its affiliates. She was stunningly beautiful (way hotter than anyone I'd be able to get in the States) and had a knife scar on her temple and another along her thigh. She wouldn't talk much about DRC, but had discovered Pilates upon arriving in Kigali, and was really into it. Last I heard she's an instructor.
I only ever went to Goma, the off-and-on UN safe haven. It's sort of like that city in Star Wars where you can do pretty much anything (including, I'm told, have someone killed for a case of beer). As long as you're sufficiently anesthetized against all the sad shit around you, Goma can be a pretty exciting place. Once your buzz wears off, though, and your empathy returns, it's hard to spend another minute there without wanting to drop everything and go join Doctors Without Borders.
Craptacular, since I love the anonymity of this site, hereís a CSB: Working in Rwanda, I had a side gig escorting people who for whatever reason wanted to avoid the checkpoint/visa issues/passport-stamping at the border with DRC. A tin-miner friend, who used to smuggle diamonds when he was younger and stupid, showed me how to go through the forest north of Gisenyi and around to Goma. He let me borrow some rifles rented from the soldiers who guarded his mine- I never fired a shot in anger in Africa, but there were murderous ethnic militias and corrupt DRC soldiers to be avoided- and I would use my occasional weekends off to enjoy a holiday in Gisenyi (delicious fried fish and a Primus brewery nearby!) and do the border runs with whichever client needed to make the trip. He also introduced me to the Lebanese(?) merchants who run part of Goma, and I remember sitting on a dock, drunk and doped to the gills, watching the Lebanese fire their AK-47s into the night sky. It occurred to me then that, had my friend not been there, the Lebanese could have murdered me for sport and dumped me in the lake and no one would have investigated. Those guys had a lot of power and no morals; they trafficked and used cocaine among other shady doings. I never brought girls to Goma; too risky and the Lebanese seemed rapey as hell.
The same miner also almost got me a gig as ďhead of securityĒ running a shipment of weapons to Laurent Nkunda on behalf of an old Israeli dude, but when he told the old man I was ďan American ex-MarineĒ (I am ex-Army, and he coulda told the guy I was Canadian as Iím a dual citizen), the guy balked, thinking I might be CIA or whatever. In retrospect, though I needed the money, Iím really glad the run didnít end up happening. The weapons would undoubtedly have been used to hurt the already wretched DRC civilian population. At the time I was too cavalier to care, but now that I am older and actually think about stuff, I donít know how I would have been able to live with myself.
Didn't it play out as the ethnic majority starting a genocide campaign against the Tutsi, and after massacring a ton started getting their asses kicked when the Tutsi organized into an army? It was only then when the French government stepped in to start declaring atrocities and intervention since they were backing the majority in exchange for mining rights or something?
You know what, fuck me I should have just watched the video first.
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