Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blood River

It has been a couple of months since I finished Blood River
but I keep thinking about the tragic picture it paints of the Congo. Subtitled A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart, Tim Butcher's book tells the story of his trip down the length of Africa's Congo River, from deep in the continent to the Atlantic. Along the way, Butcher bears witness to the deterioration caused by decades of war and neglect in the DRC. Trains and highways are swallowed up by the jungle. Sunken steamships clog the river. A transit worker still reports to work daily, but has not seen a bus—or had anything to do—for nine years. Villagers tell stories of long lost technology to grandchildren who may never experience it for themselves. And all the while, foreign soldiers and armed militias guard the mines from which they continue to extract wealth. The book does not suggest solutions, but it is a fascinating journey and a deep lament.