Monday, May 11, 2009

Blood River

The ground was brown with mud and rotting vegetation. No direct sunlight reached this far down and there was a musty smell of damp and decomposition. Above me towered canyons of green, as layer after layer of plant life filled the voids between the forest floor and treetop. I felt suffocated, but not so much from the heat as from the choking, smothering forest.

I took a few steps and felt my right boot clunk into something unnaturally hard and angular on the floor. I dug my heel into the leaf mulch and felt it again. Scraping down through the detritus, I slowly cleared away enough soil to get a good look. It was a cast-iron railway sleeper, perfectly preserved and still connected to a piece of track... It was a moment of horrible revelation. I felt like a Hollywood caveman approaching a spaceship, slowly working out that it proved life existed elsewhere in time and space...I had discovered evidence of a modern world that had tried- but failed- to establish itself in the Congo.

1 comment:

  1. Among the earliest (human rights) campaigners was George Washington Williams, a pioneering African American who travelled by boat as far as Stanley Falls in 1890 and did something nobody had ever thought to do before: he recorded the testimony of the Congolese themselves. He exposed the brutality of european colonial rule in Africa to 'the folks back home', coining the term "crimes against humanity".