Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Last week, there was a minor demonstration outside of our residence. We live next door to the Presidential Palace ("Palace") and, evidently, some government workers were extremely displeased with the lack of salary they were receiving. Understandably.

I was on the back balcony and began to hear singing, shouting, and whistles. Soon a large-ish crowd appeared. They were chanting, waving branches, and marching down the street towards the entrance to the palace grounds. Not exactly what you hope to see on your average day in Congo. As it happens to be, the entrance is blocked by a Republican Guard* checkpoint and guarded by AK-47 armed soldiers. One might call this an "undesirable situation". I think the equation goes like this: Congo rally protest + trigger happy non-trained soldiers = potential civilian target practice.

Fortunately, for everyone involved, nothing happened. The crowd let their grievances be known and somehow they all came to a peaceful resolution and dispersed without incident. Sophie and I watched this all unfold from behind a potted plant. Occasionally, during the loudest part of the demonstration, Sophie would give a little bark. I think she was mad at them for ruining her afternoon nap.

*Congolese President Kabila's "elite" guard force

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