Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Traveling in Congo

Georgianne Nienaber -- a writer who does her research in South Africa, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- weighs in on Secretary Hillary Clinton's trip to the Congo:

Regarding the international press sniping about Clinton's response to a poorly translated question at the town hall meeting in Kinshasa, I get it and more. Travel in Africa is difficult and trying, but travel in Congo is beyond belief. Word is that she had to fight to be allowed to take what are basically unsafe in-country flights from Kinshasa to Goma and back. Most of us who have worked there avoid those flights like the plague. Add the generally imperious nature of officials there, combined with jetlag and the horrors she has been witnessing all over the continent, it is no wonder she politely snapped a very curt answer to what appeared to be a very stupid question about her husband.

Lord knows, I have been known to chew the heads off of my traveling companions for not staying focused. Travel with me in Congo at your peril. My usually sunny disposition goes up in smoke pretty quickly. I blame my anti-malarial medication, but I have no idea whether the Secretary was taking any precautions. One would assume, though, that she was. Malaria prophylactics are notorious for inducing lack of sleep and fiery tempers.

I think it was good she was feisty. I am hoping that she flashed the same temper to Kabila because of his complete and utter failure at protecting the people of Congo. . . As far as the $17 million for rape victims? We need to make sure that most of it does not go to Kabila's motorcycle collection.