Congo River Trip on NPR

NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has a series of stories about her 500 mile journey down the Congo River in the DRC on a river barge. The overall journey starts in Kisangani and heads to Kinshasa.

The story was broadcast in five short (7min) installments on Morning Edition. Here is a link to the article about the series.

This reminds me of this section from “A Bend in the River”:

But at night, if you were on the river, it was another thing. You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there. You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.

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Kisangani Camp Base Project

On January 12th, 2011, I’m flying from San Francisco to Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo for a four and a half month long internship. The project is an agricultural initiative through the Norman Borlaug Institute and AFRICOM in order to provide a sustainable food source for the Congolese military. There have been two previous interns from the Bush School of Governments, each of which have posted blog updates in the AFRICOM blog here and here.

So far, farms have been established at Camp Base to grow amaranth (a leaf vegetable) and cassava (a staple of their diet), fisheries stocked with tilapia and African catfish are soon to produce their first batch of fish, and livestock have been introduced. The program’s main goal is to train trainers so that they can continue to train other soldiers in the future to participate in the farming, fishing, and livestock operations after the U.S. Military and the Borlaug Institute leave in late 2011.

I will be interning for the project manager, assisting with the budget paperwork, military reports, and various aspects of the day-to-day operations. I plan to learn as much as possible about project management, while getting to know some of the issues with development work in a post-conflict country.

I’ll also be taking a few correspondence courses at the same time. One of them will be on technology transfer, and the other will be a African Development Studies course. I’ll be posting a number of responses to the reading for the African Development course on here, as it will be applicable to development in general.

In preparation for the journey, I’m reading A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, which takes place in Kisangani right after the colonial period came to an end. I’m also planning on re-reading Heart of Darkness, as Kisangani is the place on the Congo River where Marlowe found Kurtz.