Muddy hell … Part Two

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Travel Africa Magazine
Jambo! "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far,
go together." African proverb

Muddy hell

It’s still January 1993 in Zaire. In part two of his epic journey through what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Travel Africa’s Publications Manager Phil Clisby heads for a date with the mountain gorillas, with one or two strange encounters along the way…

Walking round Kisangani, Den, Viv and I bumped into a real dude. He was wearing leather trousers with laces up the side, black cowboy boots, a leather jacket, a dagger necklace and a baseball cap. Anyone would have thought it was only 30°C. He looked like he was one of the Village People.

Stopping us, he asked: “What on Earth are you doing in this crazy, mucked-up place with a not very nice president who’s not doing very much for the country?” I’ve substituted a few ‘F’ words.

It transpired that he was born in Kisangani but had left 35 years previously to find fame and fortune in Germany and America. His accent was all over the pace, as if to prove the point. Switching from a Noo Yawk drawl to clipped Germanic to guttural African, all in the same sentence. He claimed to own a few diamond mines, a couple of recording studios and be the composer behind such groups as Boney M and Milli Vanilli. Thinking about it, perhaps that should have been diamond mimes.

Our Noo friend had come back to see his old country and check on his diamonds, and was completely devastated by the state of the place. To give some context, Zaire was experiencing a bit of turmoil at this time. In December 1992, the army had looted Kisangani, smashing up everything in sight, including people, because they hadn’t been paid. There were bullet holes in many of the buildings around town, bearing witness to this.

Lucky Martin (if you remember from part one of this tale, he’d had his passport stolen) had spent the morning at the Immigration Office, trying to sort out his passport situation. He was told to return at 2pm to collect a "more official" letter than the one he’d acquired in Lisala, but by 4pm there was still no sign of the immigration officer.

Unfortunately, we had to leave Kisangani that day, and the guy still had Martin’s original laissez-faire document. There was nothing else for it: we were going to have to smuggle him over the border into Uganda.

Read the full blog to learn what it’s like to navigate through huge mudholes, meet a mountain gorilla, marvel at a samosa… oh, and smuggle someone across a border.

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The Selous in Africa

Please join author Robert J Ross in London, at Hatchards (W1J 9LE) on Wednesday July 13, 6-8pm, to celebrate the publication of his book.
Rob will be showing his photographs and sharing stories from the book, which is a luxurious 276-page volume filled with nearly 400 images of one of Africa’s most beautiful but least known protected areas. Copies of the book will be on sale on the night, or can be purchased by clicking here.

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In April we announced we had launched a new App, which is now available on all platforms from your favourite App Store, along with better mobile functionality. Our old App is being discontinued and will stop being supported from the end of June. So, please, if you have not already archived your purchased issues onto your old App, please do so urgently over the next couple of days. If you have not done this, you will lose previously purchased issues. If you are an App subscriber who believes you are due additional issues, you need to switch to the new App and claim your voucher for those issues due to you.
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Safari njema!
Sherry Rix, Customer Services

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