Yes, I know I’m in the C’s, and the name of this country appears to start with a D. In my mind, though, it’s “Congo, Democratic Republic of the,” which will be followed in my next blog post by “Congo, Republic of the.” So now, on to the book!
This country came up on my list at a fortuitous time, just as Richard Ali A Mutu’s book, Mr. Fix-It, was released after being translated into English from the Lingala. This little book tells the story of Ebamba, a man from the capital city of Kinshasa who wants to marry Eyenga. The road to wedlock is fraught with peril, however, beginning with the wrangling that must be done by the couple’s families to establish the bride price. The negotiations aren’t helped by the relentless rain, which causes roofs to leak and sewers to overflow. Making things even worse, Ebamba’s landlady hears of his engagement and threatens to evict him, since unbeknownst to him, she had plans to fix him up with her daughter.
Ebamba begins to wonder why bad things always happen to him, and we learn that he recently failed to be hired for a job because he wouldn’t sleep with the manager. It does seem that one thing after another causes trouble for Ebamba, and the book’s title doesn’t seem at all apt.
Aside from the story of the hapless Ebamba, Mr. Fix-It is full of details about life in Kinshasa. The author appears to want to share his love of the city with his readers. After a particularly poetic description of the sun setting over the Congo River, there is a passage that reads: “Kinshasa, the land of bursting joy in all its forms… It’s true, you may live to be one hundred years old, but if you have never seen Kinshasa, you cannot say that you have truly lived.” While that may be the author’s view of Kinshasa, I can’t help but think that poor Ebamba has a different view entirely.
I wasn’t inspired to cook anything that was mentioned in Mr. Fix-It, so I did a Google search instead. I found a recipe for kushari on the Recipes Wikia website. This dish consists of a layer of rice, topped by a layer of macaroni, topped by a layer of lentils, and then finally topped with a spicy tomato sauce and garnished with crispy fried onions. Way too many carbs were involved, but the dish was tasty enough.
There were so many projects listed for the Democratic Republic of the Congo at GlobalGiving.com that I had a hard time choosing just one. I finally opted for one administered by the Congo Children Trust that provides a home for street girls. According to the project description, there are more than 250,000 street children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As is the case pretty much anywhere else, girls are especially vulnerable. To help some of these girls, “'Maison Janet Bokwa' is now offering a safe haven for 10 street girls, where they receive a local education, friendship and one-to-one support. Situated on the outskirts of Lubumbashi, the house offers a peaceful environment for children to overcome their time on the streets, and enjoy activities such as sewing, arts and sports. Over time, we aspire to reunite these children with their families.” More information about this project is available at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/congo-children-trust/.
NEXT STOP: REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO