From the Heart of Congo

From the Heart of Congo
Traveling in the Democratic Republic of Congo

This is my tenth posting. A perfect time, I think, to reflect upon this blog project.

There are differences, of course. Some of the interviewees lead peaceful, idyllic lives while others face hardship and challenges. Yet there is more commonality than difference in their answers.  They talk of peace. They talk about the natural beauty of their country. They talk about the rhythm of their daily lives.

I realize no one person can represent a whole country or people. But these lone voices have told me what no news agency or governing body could. From them, I have learned what life is like on a coffee and tea farm in Kenya, along the sea in Spain, and in a small flat in Russia. I have heard their singular and unique hopes for the future. Hopes that resonate with me.

This project reminds me everyday that whatever our conditions, whatever our history, there are things we can learn from people in every country of the world, as long as we ask the right questions and listen. This is also a perfect time to say thank you to all who have opened their hearts and minds to me. I am so very grateful to Theresa (Kenya), Jaell (Brazil), Mario (Spain), Rika (Japan), Laszlo (Hungary), Nandita (India), Herman (Netherlands), Alex (Russia), and Olya (Ukraine). Thank you all for your honesty, your time, and your thoughtful answers.

For teaching me about your world.

Sylvain

Which brings me to this blog’s tenth post interviewee, Sylvain. Sylvain is a journalist, photographer, and filmmaker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  I read one of Sylvain’s stories in the unique and worldly online publication Tuck (http://tuckmagazine.com/). His Tuck magazine article about thousands of children and women working in the artisanal mine sites of Katanga in Congo did little to dispel the stories I’d heard about his country’s troubles.

Thanks for putting together such a fine online journal, Michael Organ. If it had not been for you and your publication, I never would have found Sylvain. And many thanks to Sylvain, who graciously agreed to tell me about his life in the DRC. Although most of what I know about his country revolves around its turbulent history and violent present, there is more to a country than its politics and troubles. The hope was that Sylvain’s voice  would be able to pierce that worldview and reveal another side of Congo.

Photos supplied by Syvlain and used with his permission.

My Conversation with Sylvain

How many languages do you speak and which one is your first or native language?

I speak French, English, Swahili, Kinande, Lingala, and Kinyarwanda. Swahili is my first language.

Please look out a window in your home and tell me what you see.

I see the stone volcano of Mount Nyiragongo.

What is your favorite Congolese food or dish?

The planted banana and chicken meat.

What is special or unusual about where you live?

Fear. Despair.

What would you like Americans to know about your people and country?

We would like Americans to know that in Congo there are also positive things, like nice people. Not only our criminals.

What is your greatest fear?

The stability of our country is too far below us because the political maturity is still lower.

What gives you hope?

Any person is deadly but the ill will eventually die. The international community remains a great hope for me.

Who or what inspires you?

Israeli peoples.

What is your opinion of the United States?

The United States is a state that is like a double-edged sword; it puts too much pressure on personal interest and is ready to sacrifice everyone for its interest.

What dreams do you have for the future of your country? 

I just have a dream for me alone. I do not have a dream for this country because Africa is managed by the great powers of the world.

On the streets of Congo

On the streets of Congo

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