Articles,  Poetry

Dinanga, the Ark of Refuge

Eighteen days since the ship began its voyage toward
the distant capital town of Kin-Malebo;
On the majestic river Congo; sailing slowly and hesitantly
on the vicious liquid leaving behind the foretold
fall of a regime in disarray.
We have tamped everything down under the bags of cassava;
the life conditions are unimaginable on the barges.


When the shadow of the night appears, the torrential
equatorial rains choose to flagellate us with no leniency.
During the day and under the torrid sun, the tsetse flies
bite us relentlessly with no mercy.
Kraaaak! Suddenly, once again, trapped into a bank of sand.
The roaring of the engine hangs over our weakened heart.

The Dinanga vessel is exhausted.

Drifting over five hundred kilometers from Boyoma city,
nearing Lisala the birth town of the eagle of
Kawele palace, Mobutu Sese Seko.
The weakened Dinanga has thrown itself in
the submerged sandbank. Piled up with the merchandises,
the passengers are grieving… Yeah! Weeping and mourning
such is our quotidian burden on this haunted ark of refuge.
The malevolent has arrived. One or two departed per day.
Life is obscure. The number of effected is yet to be known:
A death from dysentery, a death from misery.
The time is suspended, days have passed.
Without fuel, we are stuck helpless into the wet sand
in the middle of the serpent river, Congo river.
Meanwhile, things fall apart:

In front of us, in Kinshasa, the leopard has fled…
Moreover, behind us the kadogo-child-soldiers
have dismembered the giant one, Zaïre…
The light of our faith dissolves leaving us on the moist
island of misfortune.

We are but a sample of what people from all
corners of the land are enduring.
Grief –
Abandonment –
Now among the bags of manioc, under the trap of wealth,
a new victim shies away.

A friend, a sister and brother, who yesterday was well
full of hope and dreams vanishes today.
While currently in my reminiscence, his face remains
forever etched into my spirit:
A man who fights to survive; alone, a refugee on the boat,
Attacked by diseases… His heart wants to let go …

– Along the River Congo; memory in the whispering winds

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