Having arrived safely, Kinshasa had a number of surprises in store for us, not that we did not expect them but their magnitude could be said to supersede our expectations; in other words, we were overwhelmed!
On disembarking from the aircraft, we faced our first menace, the heat was quite intolerable; as many of you may know, and the city of Kinshasa lies along the mighty Congo River.
This river can be said to be more or less a lake than a river, I bet, It sometimes becomes difficult to tell if it is a river or a lake or both! I don’t know what would you call such a gigantic water body stretching almost two kilometres in width (somehow wider than our Lake Muhazi)?
As we set foot on the Congolese soil, we were welcomed by the scorching heat. We arrived at around 10:00am, it felt like midday or so, the temperature was most probably 38°Centegrade or so.
The Airport terminal building was not as we expected, going by the amount of mineral wealth this country boasts of, we expected a mini Johannesburg of a sort! Finding a “colonial” airport in such a “rich” country was rather disappointing!
Kinshasa’s N’Dijili International airport is about an hour’s drive to he city centre. It lies in the N’Djili Commune of the Kinshasa Province; word has it that, the whole of Kinshasa Province is nearly the size of Rwanda. Believe it or not, the population of this city is said to be about 10 million people (like the population of the whole of (Rwanda).
At the airport, we were advised to pool some money so that we could “hire” someone to go and collect our bags from the Baggage area or else, we stood to lose them because the collection area is so crowded that, only a “Kinshasan” would trace them!
Did we have any choice? No thank you; we gave in and in a handful of minutes; we were re-united with our passions. Despite all the negativities in this country, one or two positives surface here and there. I can say that, hope is not lost!
At the other side of the airport (arrival), there was a fleet of nice looking NISSAN Sedans, these limos like creatures were more beautiful than the revered Mercedes; they are black and cute, we were told that they are for VIPs.
As for the journey to the city centre, we hired a MAZIDA Taxi Voiture, going by its looks; it must have been manufactured in the 1970s and most probably, imported during the reign of Field Marshall General Mobutu Sésé Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga, putting its age at 30 or so years.
The driver charged us a cool United States Dollars 60, did we have a choice? No thank you! We hit the road at N’djili Commune head quarters; the journey took us through the Commune Kingasani to our destination in Commune Gombe. The road from the airport to town must have seen many
good days or is it years, but as it stands now; it is in need of repairs to bring it out of the twentieth century to the twenty-first century.
I suppose, Mobutu Sésé Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga‘s ghost still lingers around this place! Kingasani is a sprawling city suburb, all along the road (about 20km), one is reminded of the twentieth century.
I pray that, the Almighty God may exercise a little bit of his mercy upon this vast African nation, Amen. See you soon.
I need to get myself a hotel to put my tired body to rest.
I am told, Kinshasa is not a cheap place to be in.