Reflections on Congo

Maurice tells me he’s afraid of women. Women are different from men. Life is about being together. In a world where you can’t count on any thing physical, the interaction between humans becomes the only safeguard. There’s no money to acquire possesions. There’s no economy that cultivates produce. Getting your daily food and beverage is as much of a hazard as loving a woman is. Maurice lives by himself in a hut in a tiny little village some five hundred kilometres nord-east of Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo. He’s born in the capital and knows his way around. But he prefers to cater for his own sustenance at the country side rather then being dependent on others in the city.

On est ensemble Maurice repeats. If I can do something for you, I will do it. If you can do something for me, you do it. The context is Congolese Africa. There isn’t much secure in live. Fellow human beings can form a net of (vangnet) if they intent to. Loyalty becomes dominant in a place where hunger, governement corruption and sorcery rule. Food and beverage is to be shared rather then consumed. But mainly it’s about time spent together, being together. Even if there’s nothing to be shared but silence. Individual impressions, thoughts and emotions being processed sitting side by side in each others presence. 

We meet Maurice early in the morning in front of our basic room provided by the priests of a mission post not far from his village. He’s wearing dark shades, a long dress and a little red radio. The peaceful silence at the little monastery is overruled by African music radiating from his device. Maurice is talking philosophy. Sometimes his words are hard to follow. Which makes it even more compelling to listen to him. From the moment he comes to see us until days later, when we leave the country per speedboat crossing the Congo river, he and his little red radio accompany us. By expressing this words I might be able to make the experience everlasting. As if time and distance are relative. Which actually they are.


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