Blood River a journey to Africas broken heart
by Butcher, Tim
pub. by Grove Press, NY 2008 isbn 0-8021-1877-1 - photos - 363 p. -- map p. Viii-ix -- Epilogue p. 343-346 -- Bibliography p. 347-348 -- Acknowledgements p. 349-350 -- Index p.351-363
Tim Butcher was assigned to be the Africa correspondent for the Daily Telegraph the same newspaper which backed Stanley when he crossed Africa East to West 1874-1877. Tims mother also vacationed in the Congo in 1950 when it had a good veneer of civilization. Part of his family history included stories and having keepsakes of this in the home where he grew up.
Butcher did his travel in 2004 in what he hoped was a lull in the fighting which has gone on for over 20 years.
Butcher devotes whole chapters to historical and to a lesser extent geographical background which is very enlightening in understanding the area and how it came to be the way it is/was in 2004.
After much preparation and emailing to leaders and NGOs in the area Butcher starts out by flying in a UN
airplane to Kalemie (was Abertville) on the western shore of Lake Tanganykia in Katanga province of the
Democratic Republic of Congo. Here he stayed with the local Anglican bishop and was supported by an
official of a cobalt mining company. Here he met up with contacts with an aide NGO Care International who travel in pairs of 100cc off-road motorbikes.
He traveled overland paralleling the Lukunga a seasonal river which flows into the Congo from lake
Tanganyika when it overflows.
to Kasongo then crossed river to (Kabambarre) on Care Int. motorbikes rough journey he did not have enough boiled water and suffered dehydration on the way. The motorbikes did not stop for anything during the day, being live moving targets. At night they slept and headed out pre-dawn... not enough time to boil water for next day. He was accompanied with a pygmy rights activist who knew many along the first part of this trip and he protected them by his presence.
Across Congo River at Kasongo (bridge out) ferried with motorbikes in large dugout canoe. They proceeded to Kimbomo through dense jungle to Kindu where UN station was (only supplied by air the UN people there did not believe he got there overland they thought it was impossible). After a short layover he proceeded by UN (Uruguayan Navy) patrol boat 150 km to Mutshaliko. Butcher hired a canoe there with 4 paddlers over 2 days they traveled 200 km to Stanley Falls - passed Ponthierville (=Ubundu). It was Very dangerous there. He spend the night in a church. The Care Internatinal people were there with motorbikes and they proceeded to Kisangani (Stanleyville) down river from the upper Stanley Falls 7 sets of cataracts.
He was stuck in Kisangani for some time, luxurating in a fairly decent and expensive hotel for a few days, then staying in a Catholic Church guest house. Most travel to and from Kisangani, even for supplies was by air. There is only infrequent river traffic. Butcher tried byt could not get on fuel supply boat which was heading back down river. He did manage to get a ride on UN pusher tug and barge run by Malaysian navy officer and piloted by a Congolese skipper with congolese crew. They proceeded down river past Bumba and Lisala to Mbandaka which was the destination of the tug. The river traffic from there downstream may have taken weeks and there was no timetable when the next tug and barge to arrive. Butcher took the faster way from Mbandake to Kinshasa by UN helicopter. He rested up in Kinshasa and did the last bit by jeep/car to port of Maradi at lower end of the lower falls (Cataracts) of Congo River on moderately good road, then the absolute last bit on more primitive track (passable with difficulty by 4 wheel vehicle) to the actual mouth of the river at Bomba. (cast iron church).
During the whole trip Butcher reveals much history and describes the current situation (in 2004). The book has an epilogue which brings one up to the situation in 2006. ~ 2014-08-02 ~
Author list with LINKS to description of each book
Subject list with LINKS to description of each book
Fiction Author list with LINKS to description of each book
Non-Fiction Title list with LINKS to description of each book
to Books index page.