Monday, September 18, 2006

Congo Journey

In the Belgian colonial memory, as in my novelist's fantasy, Bukavu was a lost paradise, a misted Shangri-La of wide, bougainvillea-laden streets and lakeside villas with lush gardens sloping to the shore. The province of South Kivu was to Central Africa what biblical Palestine was to Arabia. The volcanic soil of the surrounding hillsides was so fertile, the climate so benigh, that there was scarcely a fruit, flower or vegetable that didn't thrive there. But Eastern Congo has like every paradise a fatal flaw: It is a natural treasure chest of gold, diamonds, cassiterite and now coltan and uranium, which for centuries has lured every known species of human predator to its misted hills and jungles, from freebooting Rwandan militias to suited corporate carpetbaggers with nice manners and fat checkbooks and shiny offices in London, Houston, St. Petersburg and Beijing.

from Congo Journey
by John le Carre
The Nation


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