Suncream on, I stretch my legs out in front of me, into the sun. I lie back and listen to the birds and the lapping of water at the shore of the lake. The green mountains loom on the horizon, and there’s tranquillity in the air.
It’s easy, in moments like this, to forget that I’m in DRC. The conflict, the poverty, the horror stories seem all so distant. But then I realise that indeed, this too is Congo. Lake Kivu, sunshine, stunning birds and wildlife, rolling mountain ranges and tropical rains. This too is Congo. In fact, can I even say that this is the real Congo? This is the Congo that should be first to spring to our minds.
When I first told people, friends, family that I was moving to DRC, some voiced their understandable concerns. ‘What about the war?’ ‘Will you be safe?’ and ‘Congo? I heard it was the rape capital of the world.’ I realised very quickly the connotations of the Congo: rape, war, death, insecurity, pain. A place with nothing good.
I’m not disputing, and in no way do I want to downplay the scale of destruction that has been inflicted upon eastern DRC in the past decades.
But as I lay soaking in the sun, I wondered how, would it be if we re-imagined the Congo. If we saw it as a country not of brokenness but one of hope. Of splendour. Of richness and potential.
The beauty, the vastness, the peace and tranquillity at the lake’s edge: this is the Congo that God created.