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By Ben Rawlence
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Additional resources for Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War
The herd right here used to quantity sixty thousand and the farm hired 1000s of individuals. there's one worker left, Maurice, who takes care of the rest 200 cows. it's a ask yourself there are any in any respect. Towering pine timber scratch one another like animals transferring in a stockade and provides where a quiet, eerie murmur. electrical energy pylons stand incongruous and deserted, draping their wires, forlorn and forgotten puppets. part a dozen white villas are blackened by means of fireplace, with glassless home windows and waterless faucets. Bizarrely, anyone has trimmed the field hedges that fringe those wrecked homes; therefore framed, they develop into nearly exhibition items. a bath is upturned in the course of a kitchen. Pipes dangle via ceilings, the flooring are charred. there is not any brochure for this macabre museum. as a substitute, the nasty historical past of Pepa is written inside of. The partitions are a bright insurrection of graffiti left by way of successive occupying forces. No wall is clean, as though the warriors have been starved of a floor on which to precise themselves in the course of their months within the bush. 1000s of tiny stick figures do unspeakable issues to different tiny human shapes. they bring about knives, sticks, machetes, weapons, bazookas, bottles. They stand by myself, in teams, drawn one on most sensible of the opposite, time and again. There are aeroplanes, helicopters, boats and bicycles; forests, rivers, bullets, corpses. And phrases. Lists of names, battalions and battles in French, Swahili, English and different languages that i can't establish, in addition to threats, insults and tag names shout on the empty rooms. the most important identify of all is scrawled alongside the pinnacle of a wall, above a blackened window with a beautiful view of the pine timber: COMMANDER NINJA strength, CNF. I shudder to imagine what the folk of Pepa should have continued by the hands of the boys liable for this torrent of terror. Surrounded through rolling grassland, on best of the top hill for miles, with a transparent view of the line from Moba inland to the mining components of southern Katanga, Pepa was once a hugely strategic prize within the moment Congo battle. It replaced palms 3 times in 2000, through the severe struggling with among Rwanda, Rwandan-backed RCD rebels and Kabila’s Congolese military. as soon as the Rwandans left in 2003, Mai Mai occupied the city and persisted the reign of terror. just about all the folk fled south to Zambia. Lunch is within the place of work of Pepa’s basically charity, a small NGO affiliated to the blokes who're giving me a boost. we all who've hitched a trip within the NGO motor vehicle take a seat round a desk whereas the prepare dinner fusses and apologizes over the maize and eggs that he has rustled up at very brief observe. I ask him his identify. ‘My identify is Zongwe, sir’, he says sooner than disappearing into the kitchen, arms choked with plates. anything approximately his light demeanour and assiduous deal with his visitors attracts me to the kitchen after lunch, and we take a seat jointly at the wall within the sunshine. Zongwe was once born right here in 1975, while the city was once nonetheless a Belgian farming group, and his entire relations labored for the whites, whom he says have been merciless.