Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hello world! � Back to the Congo

Hello world! � Back to the Congo

I like the title of this post… it is quite appropriate. So yes, hello world. After several years abroad, I am going back to my native Congo. It has been 6 years since the last time I was there, and in fact, it is the first time in 20 years I am going to be there for this long (a few months, maybe more).

I have endured devastating trials and tribulations in the USA, as well as great moments that I will never forget, and great friendships that will last forever. Now, I am going back home, which is exciting, but also brings with it its own set of trials and challenges. I have grown to be - I must admit - quite a Westernized Liberal, during my time in the US, and I do not know how I will be able to navigate the weight and tediousness of some aspects of my own native culture… just the fact that this is an issue in my head is concerning to me. And then there is the ever present corruption, the constant power outages, the rarity of water at the faucet, the lack of basic services, and the poor transportation system (which is going to be the greatest challenge, after being so used to the MTA in New York). When you add to this the new restrictions on my movements that I am foretold, especially at night, for safety and distance reasons (we live in an outlying suburb), you can understand that I am a bit anxious and apprehensive… which is frustrating to me because I love my country, and I resent having to feel apprehensive to live in it.

But I have prepared myself as best I could, and I am looking forward to going back home, despite the challenges. I will try - as safely as possible - to document my time, the issues I faces, the cool things I encounter, the debates I am suggested, and how life simply is in Kinshasa, especially as I am trying to get employed for the time I am there. In many ways this will be an expat-blog… well, more like a non-expat expat blog. See, in Congo, I have all the assets of an expat:

  • US-educated
  • Multilingual
  • Worldly
  • World citizen
  • Computer and Internet litterate
  • Itunes-addicted
  • Feels your pain
  • Eager to save the world

all the inconvenients of an expat:

  • Mistrusted
  • Outsider
  • Feared
  • conned
  • disoriented
  • Foreign-thinking, sounding, and acting

and none of the expat advantages:

  • a shiny SUV with a shiny logo (UN, Red Cross, CARE, etc) that opens some doors by its mere presence; with a driver
  • an expat-level salary waaaaay beyond what 95% of the Congolese people could dream to make, that allows them to live like kings in Congo
  • a foreign passport guaranteeing them evacuation should things get too dicey
  • and, let us be completely honest, white skin (or at least a “non-African” ethnic look) which - in a country still reeling from the complexes and fears born out of colonialism - is still a mark of wealth and authority, given priority and precedence in many instances, even when junior in rank, station, education and knowledge. (To carricature, think of the educated Congolese man as a black A-student from the University of Idaho, and some expats as the C-student from Yale. Somehow the latter always has more chances to be President than the former…)

So those are the realities I am preparing to face. I will have to learn to be somewhat of a second-class citizen in my own country (actually, third-class, since the expats are already second to the rich Congolese elites), after fighting discrimintaion in the US… a brother can’t catch a break!! But I really shouldn’t complain. I will have a car, and I have a strong family to support me. So, I am better than the average Congolese citizen, who is about sixth or seventh-class… ;)

I digress. So this blog: My life, back in the Congo. I hope you come back and read some of the stuff I write, and that I can bring some insight on this beautiful yet suffering country that I love, through my own experiences there. I will also write and/or post things that just randomly interest me, regardless of whether it linked to the Congo (I think that is what bloggers do, no?) This new blog , at Wordpress, is is a continuation of this blog, African in America.

Happy reading!