Jambo and Asante Sana

Img_4014 Posted by David Gough on Mon, 06 May 2013 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a stunningly beautiful country with the Ruwenzori Mountains on the Eastern Border with Uganda and many smaller rolling mountain ranges across its lush green, mainly eucalyptus tree-covered interior. It is a very fertile country and its people are extremely industrious growing vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, cassava, cabbage, carrots, onions, and beans and fruit like pineapple, bananas, mangos and passion fruit. As we drive throughout the region every vista from the car window is truly spectacular with hillsides lined with terraced fields of crops. We even spotted a few John Deere tractors.

The Church too is so industrious in the Diocese of North Kivu – for example, it operates 114 Primary and Secondary Schools and 52 Medical Centres as well as a few hospitals. All of these buildings are extremely basic with the majority being of mud-walled construction and mud floors and many are poorly staffed and equipped with insufficient numbers of teachers or health professionals and inadequate scholastic materials and medicine. The staff are poorly paid by the government and their salaries have to be supplemented by token school fees. The majority of the pastors in the Church are also unpaid and can only survive by selling some of their crops they grow or taking on other jobs.

After visiting eleven different locations in North Kivu with fascinating names like Ngwati, Makerere and Kyambogho, by the end of our week we had got into the pattern of introductions, greetings, thanks and prayers. Everywhere we visited we were mobbed by singing children on arrival, paraded to the church, school and medical centre or hospital then had often to endure the humiliation of speaking only a few words in Swahili – “Jambo” and “Asante Sana” or offering a simple French “Bonjour” and “Merci.” The adults giggled and clapped as we told them the number of children and grandchildren we had. While the children laughed at our bemusing accents, as we tried to introduce ourselves bringing greetings from our Parishes and families.

The furthest we travelled in North Kivu was to the territory of Lubero, 64 kilometres south of the city Butembo. On arrival we first met with the Territory Administrator (the Big man), who in this case was a she, not a she. We also met the City Chief before commencing our programme. Before I continue, I must clarify one thing, when I say ‘city’, although Butembo has a population in excess of 850,000 people, it’s nothing like any city you can imagine. Both Butembo and Lubero do not have one square metre of tarmac road. Despite it being the rainy season, the mud roads are dry and clouds of dust linger like the early morning mist. Butembo is sprawled across a number of hills and valleys with few flat areas and mud-walled tin roofed houses sit on terraces on the hillsides.

The purpose of the short visit of Rev Gerald Macartney of Milltown Parish and Rev Robert Boyd of Killyman Parish was twofold: to spy out the land for a future joint-parish visit and to help identify a project that their parishes could support for the foreseeable future. They have succeeded on both counts and have the added bonus of hosting Bishop Muhindo Isesomo of North Kivu Diocese in their Parishes in one year’s time.

On Thursday I moved on to Goma and Kindu Diocese to spend a week with Rev Andrew Rawding from the Parishes of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog. But before I left Butembo I received a call from Bishop Masimango who informed me his flight from Kinshasa had been cancelled and he would not arrive in Kindu until Saturday. Travel is not very reliable in DR Congo and maybe that’s why you can only pay for single journeys – no return tickets!


Gerald Macartney said Fri, 10 May 2013 07:38AM
David Good to hear about your further travels. Hope you had a productive time with Andrew in Kindu. The time in DR Congo is drawing to a close so safe journey home. Take some time to relax with the family and we will get together over coffee and discuss the next stage of the partnership.

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