January 19, 2019

Audio postcard from Goma

A little like my Sarajevo podcast, this is not actually part of my research. On Thursday evening I had to go to Musanze in northern Rwandan to interview one of the AU Deputy Commanders who had been deployed in Darfur. By the time I was at Musanze I was just 2 hours by bus from the border with Congo, so I decided that for the princely sum of 1300 Rwandan Francs (less than $2) it was worth making a weekend visit to see friends working in Goma.

Interviewing a recently demobilized FDLR soldier in Goma

Interviewing a recently demobilized FDLR soldier in Goma

The bureaucrat at the border was at pains to tell me what a long and difficult process it was to get a visa to cross over, and how I needed a letter of invitation, and evidence of subsistence, and an address etc etc. If this was supposed to stress me it wasn’t having the intended effect since being a purely opportunistic visit I thought that if I couldn’t get through I’d just jump on a bus back to Kigali and continue writing up my notes from the week from there.  But in anycase, he finished his officialdom speech and then said (and I’m not even paraphrasing here) – But I see you are a very pretty girl so today, for you, I just give you a visa! And that was that.

This 10 minute podcast is just a snapshot of some of my time there – at the preparations for Independence Day (today is the 49th anniversary of independence from Belgium rule) and at MONUC’s demobilization camp.

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