The border crossing is easier this time. The bureaucrat behind the wooden desk smiling and friendly as he examines my papers – last time he almost sent me back to Rwanda. The sun shines good luck on me, 8 days visa for only $35. This too changes with our bureaucrat’s mood.
And I cross. Congo beams as strongly as the African sun: a guard with dapper, checkered loafers, women in bright colors, exuberant “bonjour and jambos,” potholed roads, thick with volcanic rock, motos honking, white LandRovers in traffic, dust, chaos, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country is not polished, it is not controlled, it is lawless in many senses, rife with heinous criminal acts and civil war; yet the Congo is alive. It is a living, breathing being that refuses to submit, refuses to be destroyed and is determined to survive. And for this I have returned to the Congo.
I have returned to bring a film. Abby Disney’s brilliant film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, about the Liberian civil war. In 112 minutes, she tells of unknown heros. Of common women who are fed up with a civil war, with the rape, the murder, and the chaos. Fed up enough to act. They demonstrate. For four years, they demonstrate, growing in size, power and influence, they demand audience with warlords and with the former president himself and demand peace talks which lead to democratically held elections and the first female president in Africa.
The story inspired me, it created possibility. And I knew it would create possibility in the women of the Congo as well.