A friend of mine who happened to visit the then Zaïre, told me that, during her visit, her Zaïrian friends had special VIP cards that allowed them to shop at this exclusive supermarket (which imported luxury goods from Europe including milk and meat).
They figured that a trip to this supermarket would impress her about their wealth and power; she recalled! As the late J.M. Kariuki , while alive observed, “Having a country of ten millionaires surrounded by ten million beggars is just plain stupid”.
She repeated this quotation loudly and lost many of her posh friends in the process. I wasn’t in any hurry interested in losing my friend Mawana Mbeto and so, I dared not repeat that quote! Life in Kinshasa is quite unbearable for the ordinary people.
Our last night was indeed spent very well, we really had fun at Chez Ntembe Discotheque, and there is no question about that. You recall those “gals” with one inch high skirts?
They really kept the place lively. One of my friends, the one with traces of the madness in his blood (mad Jaluo – MJ, thanks to H.E. M7) ended up being made to pay for a beer at double the price.
He gave the one of the “gals” a USD100 note for two SKOLs, the gal returned the balance in Congolese Francs and we had to send her back with those “useless” notes for dollars. Of course, she had calculated her profit in between the exchange rates.
In the end, she brought back the balance of only US$80 and disappeared from our site. By the time we realised, it was difficult differentiating her from her colleagues.
As the SKOLs were beginning to hit us, we could not tell one from the other and hence, we ended up buying two SKOLs for US$20. That was a sort of “Farewell Kin Malebo”.
I suppose, the guys know what I am talking about, when you are sober, the gals look ugly, but as you begin to have less and less blood in your SKOLs, they begin getting more and more beautiful. I can say that, at this juncture, they had all turned so “beautiful” that, differentiating one from the other was next to impossible!
When you are “very busy”, you will never realise how time moves so fast. At this juncture, it was almost 03:00am and we had to leave for the airport early in the morning.
The “MJ” alias “Mad Jaluo” and I decided to take one of the ramshackle Taxi Voitures outside Chez Ntemba for our Hotel.
We negotiated for a fifteen US dollar fare but when we arrived at the Hotel, the guy insisted that we pay twenty because it was further than he had thought.
In the interest of being good visitors, we decided to pay, otherwise, we had no option, we could not argue as the guy only spoke French and Lingala, I and MJ spoke English, we tried talking to him in Swahili but that was like Arabic to him; in order to match him (the taxi man), MJ decided to respond in Luo every time he spoke either
Lingala or French.
To me, the Lingala and Luo sounded the same! It was so difficult getting change, we tried the Grand Hotel, they were only able to split the US$100 into fifties and then we drove to town to change the dollars into the dreaded Congolese francs.
What is amazing is the fact that, money changers can be found on the streets of Kinshasa at whatever time of day or night! By the time we went to bed, it was past 04:30am.