Saturday, November 2, 2013

DR Congo: Charly Kasereka returns to Goma for tax purposes

Charly Kasereka blogs ( translated by a translation service that wasn't given and I have attempted to tidy it up a bit, all mistakes are mine )

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Calvary a Reporter in a free zone Track Landing

OK, Calvary immediately stuffs up my translation skills, minimal though they are I am at a loss other than to utilise a religious interpretation that being the place that Jesus was crucified, given Charly's adventure that might not be too far from the truth. It should probably say something along the lines of " A reporter having a miserable time in a free zone track landing "

I as a rule do not alter Charlys blogs in any way other than to try and make the translated English version flow a bit better than the rough translation I get from the various translation services and I have followed that rule with difficulty this time because this blog has had me laughing my head off. I can only be sure of one thing, knowing Charly, that was his intention. I only hope I have not lost too much of the humour in the translation.

                                                            Goma International Airport. ( Photo Charly Kasereka)

It is 7:00 as I advanced on facilities of MONUSCO (United Nations Mission for the security and stability in Congo) to collect my ticket before checking onto the  Goma ---> Beni plane at Goma International Airport. 

On a bench in a hangar at the airport is the agent in charge of the MONUSCO'''' check in, a display list, I notice has my name. 
The same agent asks us to move to the other side of the fence and pay taxes related to travel .

A Window for Taxes
The first tax is the "Go pass'' it is Congolese jargon, nobody knows what it is for and why we pay. We argue, but end the end we pay $10 U.S.  Worse they ask me to pay another tax I do not know its name, but it's a kind of bill discount, they point out that I have to pay.

-Parking,while I do not have a car.
-Fee, I do not know what fee 
-Landing, while I'm taking off.
-Station name 

On the list I do not see anything that really concerns me. The total for all these taxes is $25 U.S.  I object aloud, the young man at his window remains calm, and we ended up paying for it not to miss the plane.

We are in the air, I can see far, I contemplate the beauty of the province of North Kivu from on high.The only phrase I say to my neighbour is " Congo is great if those who attack us could only quietly ask to come and live here, they could inhabit and cultivate the fields " My seatmate smiled, moving his head up and down.

The journey continues, we land on the city of Beni after a fifty minute flight.
My neighbour is an agent of an international non-governmental organization, he gives me a lift to town located twelve kilometers from the airfield, Mavivi center.
Here my big brother has come to get me on a motorcycle.
It is 1500 hours, I try to connect to the internet with my smartphone, the connection is not really working.

Nothing serious, I put my iphone4 in my pocket, I take my Nokia N8 to tune into the FM radio band from the town of Beni.
I put on my headphones, I automatically search, nothing impressive, some music, other entertainment and a news broadcast but with an accent that makes it difficult to fully capture the message, for me a "NANDE" (a tribe living in the province of North Kivu but further north). Born and raised in Goma, a city crossroads of all tribes and ethnic groups in the DRC.
It is night, no street lights on the main road of the town of Beni. The city has never had electric power, since its inception despite various promises of candidates for elections in 2006 nor those of 2011.

In the avenues, lighting indicates prosperity, how people are doing by the illumination of their house.

Some have private generators and others are subscribers to a common generator purchased and connected by an individual payment of fifty dollars a month but with limits. No irons or electric stove.

Monday night passes peacefully, no gun shots like I hear every night in Goma, where I also learned by phone the night of Monday, October 21 four youths were killed by armed bandits between 1900 hours and 2200 hours in the evening.

BENI by road to BUTEMBO

It's Tuesday, I have a trip to Butembo on the itinerary, fifty-two km from Beni. 
I arrive at the place called "Parking" near the city of Beni.
Forty cars known as " bush taxi " waiting for customers. A boy grabs my bag. I'm scared ah! He shows me his car, it's a bush taxi from BLESSED-BUTEMBO for one hour and thirty minutes.

In a four-seater, the driver loads up six of us, so that even the driver himself is stuck.

Behind me with a young boy, who also came from Bukavu Butembo is a mother and a FARDC soldier with his gun, all of us stuck like sardines. 
Here I am in Butembo it is my first time in this city, I see everything in red. 

"This is the mud walls of the buildings."

Almost everyone is shopping and holding a field somewhere. I ask the price of motorcycle taxi, with the accented Swahili of Goma, the price is not the same as the price that is expressed in the local language.  1500 francs, after discussion we finally arrive at 1000 francs for a distance of about 2 km.

The driver says, "where we're going is behind the hill" and gives it a name but I do not even remember it.
The night comes, I'm Butembo it is around six o'clock I see some light bulbs on in some houses, of course it is those connected to a private generators as electricity in this town, full of rivers, is still a dream.

The next day around 9:00, I go to the big market to make my report.
It's not easy. A fellow journalist also working here accompanies me, he breaths in my ear, "Here again it is very difficult to do an interview especially in Swahili, 99% speak Kinande (a local language)"
I slip into a group of fifteen persons for the job, three agreed to speak into my microphone after I have given them a long explanation.
The next day, I planned some short family visits as some family members live in the area, but also exploring the place as it is my first time.
Frankly halfway through I do not like it, too many hills to climb, just one language dominates the radio broadcasts that is not very interesting for me, I am used to Goma where almost all the world's media are followed.

                                                 Toll Route FONER on Butembo-Beni road (Photo Charly Kasereka)

After three days and nights spent in the commercial city of the province of North Kivu, on Friday morning I take my bush taxi to Beni and wait for my flight to Goma.

The road is not best for a trip of 52 kilometers. It is clay.

Though not even made, taxes are levied for the road: Two U.S. dollars for the mayor and FONER (national road maintenance fund) "Toll FONER" for each crossing by a car and charged in both directions.

One hour and forty minutes later, we're back to BLESSED, I spend the night in the hope of taking my flight tomorrow before an unexpected surprise.

I am very anxious to get to Goma as fighting between FARDC vs. Rebels M23 continues in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, I'm looking forward to reporting from the front with colleagues. I feel stuck me BENI, I am not sufficiently informed about what is happening in Rutshuru. The Internet crashes every time on my smartphone, the connection is no better.
Early in the morning I went to the airport, the transfer service of MONUSCO tells me that the flight will be BLESSED-GOMA this afternoon. I am obliged to return to town Seventeen kilometers from the airport.
Not only get to spend time I have to spend 37 more dollars for taxes called "GO PASS VAN (governed airways)"

I come back after 14 hours in the rain, the airstrip has puddles and some mud.
The control tower at Goma indicates that the route is impassable to the city of BLESSED.
There is a young lady who comes with the news. There are ten of us in the waiting room. Exclaims one of us, we go back to the day after Wednesday 30, there is transit flight from BENI to ENTEBBE it landed at about four-thirty, we have minutes to board, but alas! Madam rain was still present when we were in the waiting room with hopes of reaching Goma in three quarters of an hour.
Once again, the hope is broken, they booked EAP MONUSCO BENI and told us to return early Thursday morning to take off. So a third night at BLESSED. after seven hours and twenty minutes the plane leaves the ground at BENI, we are in the air. Three quarter hours later I see the city that I live in and was born in.

                                                              Goma from the Air (Photo Charly Kasereka)

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