… behind high whitewashed fences topped with spikes and guarded by sentries.
Friday 12 May 1972
Somehow, on arrival at Lubumbashi, I was expecting such marvellous things that if the streets had been paved with gold nothing would have seemed out-of-place. Originally named Élisabethville after Élisabeth, Queen of the Belgians, it had a fine reputation as an elegant city high in the heart of Africa. I was excited.
Throughout most of the two-hour flight from Kinshasa, I had gazed out at clouds which cleared occasionally to reveal impenetrable jungle. But in the last half hour the jungle had yielded to the open and empty bush. I sat among well-dressed Africans who on landing brought cases and piles of plastic-wrapped parcels from every crevice in the plane. My thoughts raced at the prospect of living in this mysterious new land.
I descended to the airport tarmac. There was a host of red tulips, a privet hedge and everywhere black smiling faces ready to receive leur invités. Continue reading “Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds”