SOME VIGNETTES

Riding the bike up the Avenue Bonsomie (Independence) hill on the way home, as I began to labor a bit, I hear behind me, “Mondele (white man), natindela yo?” I grunt in response without fully understanding the question. Suddenly I know the meaning as I am pushed up the hill by a bicycle taxi driver who releases hold after several vigorous steps.

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A three year old across the way cries out “mondele” every morning when I leave the compound. One evening he is there as I wait for the gate to be opened. So he shouts for me the order to the watchmen, “Open up the gate. The white man’s here.”

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The rain began to fall hard as I rode home late one afternoon. I sought shelter under the tin roof of a street stall where used clothes were displayed on boards laid across saw horses. A half dozen early to mid teen youth hung out in the “store”. After directing me to a dry spot, one of them was intent on teaching me the Lingala for “to get wet” as she offered me a chair. While one of the boys wiped my bike with a rag I gave out a box of “bics” with the hope expressed they would all be able to stay in school.

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When the Regional Minister introduced me to the pygmy secondary school graduate, the small man in his early twenties went down on one knee as he extended his arm for a hand shake. At the end of the conversation about his desire to become a nurse in one of the Church hospitals, he repeated the gesture. Again, the Regional Minister chuckled, slightly embarrassed, and this time said something in Lonkundo which I could not understand.

 

 

 

 

 

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