“Beggar of The Year”

We were woken up by loud bangs on the hotel room doors. To our amazement, it was just a few minutes to 08:00am and guess who was there? It was the First secretary of our Embassy who had got concerned as to why we had not woken up to go and catch our flight!  Little did he know that, we had spent the greater part of the night at Chez Ntemba(who would tell a Diplomat about such?)! In less than fifteen minutes, we were dressed up and ready to hit the road. 

We were woken up by loud bangs on the hotel room doors. 

To our amazement, it was just a few minutes to 08:00am and guess who was there? It was the First secretary of our Embassy who had got concerned as to why we had not woken up to go and catch our flight!  Little did he know that, we had spent the greater part of the night at Chez Ntemba(who would tell a Diplomat about such?)! In less than fifteen minutes, we were dressed up and ready to hit the road. 

The journey to N’Djili International Airport takes close to an hour, our flight was scheduled to depart at around 11:00am, but knowing what African Airlines and Airports are like, we expected a sort of delay that would adjust to
cater for our oversleeping!  We took what looked like a “new” Taxi Voiture (a 1988 model), to Kinshasa, such a car is “new”. 

This vehicle started off very well, we hit the Avenue “Trente Juin” and as we were approaching the Tingasani Police Post, the vehicle    began chocking  as if
it was about to develop a heart attack! The engine was overheating such that, lots of steam was gushing out of the engine. 

We had to abandon the Taxi and look for an immediate solution lest we miss our flight. We managed to get to the airport at about 09:30, about half an hour late!  Not bad for a country still living in the 20th Century or even
the nineteenth Century in some parts.  On arrival at the airport, we were told that, each and everyone leaving the DR Congo had to pay a “Go Pass Tax” of US$50 and that, whoever did not pay, would not be allowed to exit! 

We cleared and proceeded to the check in counters.  Going by the late J.M. Kariuki’s wisdom “Having a country of ten millionaires surrounded by ten million beggars is just plain stupid”, the check in staff were busy begging us for something.  What really amazed me most was the Immigration officer, having stamped the exit stamp in my
passport, he pulled it back and asked, “ndeko, pesa nga moi kamoke“(brother, give me something small). I had to part with a dollar note in order to get back my passport. 
We waited for nearly two hours before our plane could arrive. 

As predicated, our plane was late!  If I were to give awards, I suppose, the immigration would earn the medal of “Beggar of The Year”. 

My visit to Kin Malebo “opened my eyes”, I now see things in a broader perspective.  I will no longer take anything for granted any more. 

In other words, as the guys here would say, “tambula na mokili, omona makambo” (move places and you will see). 
I will not dwell on things like the neglect of so many of the government buildings which had peeling cement plaster on its walls surrounded by stinking mounds of bird excrement on the main steps nor the broken electronics that lean drunkenly on one corner or the other, as if suffering from a hung-over.

Though many buildings are in very bad shape, only foreigners like me were truly bothered (and shocked) by such decay.  I was glad to leave all the troubles of Kinshasa behind.  As the plane began taxing, I felt certain nostalgia for the SKOLs, where else would one enjoy SKOL for breakfast, lunch and even supper? Whoever comes has to go!

mfashumwana@fastmail.fm

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