Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War

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Oneworld Publications, Jun 1, 2012 - Travel - 320 pages
While poring over dust-caked pamphlets in the library, Ben Rawlence stumbles upon the photo of a lost city of colonial Congo--a glistening, modern metropolis built by huge tin mines and European capitalists. Today, that city, Manono, sits beyond the infamous “Triangle of Death,” in an area rarely reached by outsiders since war turned the country’s rivers to blood.

In this compelling debut, Rawlence sets out to gather the news from this ghost town in one of the most dangerous places in the world. Ignoring the advice of locals, reporters, and mercenaries, he travels by foot, motorbike, and canoe, taking his time and meeting the people who are rebuilding their homes with hope, faith, and nervous instinct. We meet Benjamin, the kindly father of the most terrifying Mai Mai warlord; Leya, who happily gives up a good job in Zambia to return to her razed town; Colonel Ibrahim, a guerrilla turned army officer; the Lebanese cousins Mohammed and Mohammed, who oversee the remains of Manono’s great mine; the priest Jean-Baptiste, who explains the conjoined prices of beer and normality; and the talk-show host Mama Christine, who dispenses counsel and courage in equal measure.

From the “blood cheese” of Goma to the decaying city of Manono, Rawlence shares the real story of Congo during and after the war, and finds not just a lost city but the seeds of a peaceful future.

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The lost city
What you wanna go there for?
Under the volcano
Meeting the colonel
Guerrillas in the mist
Blood cheese
The waves on the lake are not negligible my dear
The guns of Moba
My name is Zongwe
The return part II
The lake of snails
Eating the neighbours
Of pigs rabbits and popes
La route principale

A fishless lake
The return part I
Trouble in the Mulenge hills
The end is nigh
In search of goats and gold
A cruise on Tanganyika
The intelligence directors bath
The forest people
Beer and normality
The bend in the river
The price of
Electric dreams
The news from Manono
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About the author (2012)

Ben Rawlence is a senior researcher on Africa for Human Rights Watch. He has written for The Huffington Post, Guardian, Prospect magazine, London Review of Books, and others and contributed to BBC radio. Fluent in Swahili, he received his master’s in international relations from the University of Chicago. He travels regularly to London, New York, and Africa as part of his investigative work for Human Rights Watch.

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