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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in Lubero
















So there we were on Christmas Day; my merry men and I. A thousand miles from home we were with not a sign of Santa or his sleigh. But not a tear did we cry no sir we grinned and bore upon our fate with pride, as we enjoyed our UN rations with a sense of longing for those we so love.

May God bless us and you all as we, Delta Company, lie here on a hill top near Lubero and wish a Christmas very Merry to all of you in South Africa. Bring us home to you safely by prayer in a jet plane in half a dozen months or so and remember that until then our common fate keeps us together and God watches over his company.

Preparing Christmas Lunch















Here Sgt Cloete in the blue cap, Cpl Radebe and Capt Hendricks in the green t-shirt are preparing our Christmas Lunch. We have no stove at Lubero so what they achieved and achieve on a daily basis is astonishing. Oh yes, Capt Hendricks is actually a nurse, but he seems to be the kind of person who is handy everywhere.

Christmas Lunch
















Here we are enjoying our Christmas Lunch. Sgt Cloete and his staff, including Capt Hendricks, should really be proud of what they accomplished.

The Anderson Farm
















Mr Anderson was born in the DRC, but lived in America for a long time. He speaks good English with an American accent and his farm is on the outskirts of Lubero. While his kids are schooled in the USA he runs this well-organised piece of land. Apparently in the old days he had many guests. Currently one can rent a room for $50 and enjoy breakfast and a hot shower or simply have a descent meal.

This opportunity comes as a breath of fresh air since we have very limited facilities in our base. What we do have are many rats, no television and cold water.

Babe of the Congo
















On our visit to the Anderson Farm I came across this piglet. He seemed very disinterested in our visit and snorted indignantly when I took the photo.

Ebola Lecture
















Here our resident doctor, Captain Makgabo, is giving Delta Company a lecture on the Ebola virus. I can assure all those of you who have loved ones in this company that every precaution is being taken to prevent any one of us contracting the disease.

Orchid
















Unfortunately I have to down size my photos for me to be able to upload them, therefore this photo does not truely show the detail of the rain drops.

Eagles in the Rain
















I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself

- D.H. Lawrence

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gorillas

In the town of Butembo there is a statue of a gorilla with www.gorillas.org printed beneath it. I visited the website and found it to be quite informative with regards to gorillas and what is done to save this beautiful animal. By going to this website you can help by donating or by adopting a gorilla. I will post a photo of the statue in due time.

The Laurent Nkunda Factor

Laurent Nkunda is currently the main hurdle the Congolese have to overcome on their way to peace and security. Currently UN forces are actively engaging this man in an effort to bring him to justice. I found the following information on him from Wikipedia:

Laurent Nkundabatware or Laurent Nkunda Batware (born February 2, 1967) is a former General in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is the current leader of a rebel faction operating in the province of Nord-Kivu, sympathetic to Congolese Tutsis and the Tutsi-dominated government of neighbouring Rwanda. Nkunda, who commands former RDC troops of the 81st and 83rd Brigades of the DRC Army, has been indicted for war crimes in September 2005 and is under investigation by the International Criminal Court.

According to human rights monitors such as Refugees International, Nkunda's troops have been alleged to have committed acts of murder, rape, and pillaging of civilian villages; a charge which Nkunda denies. Amnesty International says his troops have abducted children as young as 12 and forced them to serve as child soldiers.

Nkunda claims to be a devout Pentecostal Christian and says most of his troops have converted as well.

In August 2007, the area under Nkunda's control lay in a crescent nearly 100 km long starting from a position in the mountains 15 km west of Sake, running north between Masisi and Kiroliwe, turning east through his headquarters at Kichanga, going as far as Rutshuru. In this crescent, Nkunda:

* runs his own radio station, police force and courts
* has appointed his own priest
* formed his own political party, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP).
* has flown his own flag and declared a new country, the "Land of the Volcanoes"
* levies taxes, especially on trucks, artisan mining, and trade
* has demanded people submit to ideological training, and profess loyalty to the party.

In August 2007 Nkunda was seen wearing a button that reads "Rebels for Christ." The Washington Post reported that "armed with a sense of righteousness fortified by visiting American evangelical Christian groups, Nkunda has in recent months been carrying out attacks against village after village."

Nkunda and his backers in the Rwandan government are accused of smuggling minerals out of North Kivu to Rwanda, specifically cassiterite, an ore of tin, and pyrochlore, an ore of niobium, used in heat-resistant alloys. It is said that the control of the production and smuggling of these minerals is fuelling the continued violence, hence the term "blood minerals". The sources lie near Walikale, Masisi and Rutshuru, areas in which Nkunda has been active. His soldiers occupied the Lueshe Mine up to mid-2006, and in his base town, Kichanga, there is processing factory which can refine pyrochlore from the Lueshe Mine north of Rutshuru

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Equator
















Yesterday we drove from my base here at Lubero to Beni 120km to the North. Just South of Butembo is this marker that indicates the position of the Equator. I could not resist to stop and have my picture taken next to it.

Lubero Eagles















I was lucky to get this shot of one of the many eagles around our base. There are literally hundreds of these beautiful birds flying around here. In fact in the mornings I wake up to the call of Eagles.

Mai Mai Base
















On my first day at Lubero we went on a reconnaissance patrol to the Mai Mai base in the South. When we arrived there we found it deserted.

The Mai Mai currently consist out of a few factions in the DRC. In earlier days they were known for cannibalism. There are still some reports of this practise. The movie Apocalypse Now is actually based on the Mai Mai, but it being an American movie it was changed to the Vietnam environment.

Lubero Base
















This is Lubero Base, 1900m above sea level. This could be our home for the next six months unless we are moved. We share it with an Indian unit. The weather is fine compared to the rest of the DRC. There are three animals you will find a lot of here; eagles, crows and rats.

Ebola in Butembo
















Butembo is about 50km North of Lubero and is where the newest outbreak of Ebola happened about a week or so ago. Delta Company is taking proper precautions against anybody contracting this disease. One can only contract the disease by coming in contact with the bodily fluids of faeces of an infected person.

Beni Airport
















On the second leg of our journey we flew over the border into the DRC and to the town of Beni. This is where our HQ is and we drove from here to our base at Lubero 120km to the South.

Entebbe Airport
















On the first leg of our journey we flew from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg and then straight to Entebbe pictured here. Entebbe is in Uganda and is best known for the Israeli Air Assault on it in the seventies when they rescued their nationals from a hijacked aircraft. Since we are an air assault unit I was interested to see this airport for myself. In that operation the Israelis only suffered one casualty.

We spent a full day here waiting to be flown over the border into the DRC.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Safely In Lubero

This is to inform everybody that we, being Delta Company and I, have arrived safely at our current base at Lubero, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. My current access to the internet is limited with regards to time, facilities and speed. I will post photos as soon as I have the facility and time.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Get Over It
























Have you ever heard people complaining about things in their lives. I get too little money; I do not enjoy my job; I want a new car! It may not necessarily be anything that unusual until you see it in perspective.

Victor Frankl spent years in a German concentration camp during World War 2 and In his book "Man's search for meaning" he explains how awful the conditions were and how he watched his family die. He realised there that no matter how terrible the conditions were nobody could control the way he reacted to them. He developed Logotherapy, which has the purpose of giving people meaning in their lives when they feel they have nothing to live for.

Next time you want to complain about something maybe you should ask the question is it really that bad? Remember that to get over it gives you the power.