Wednesday, June 15, 2011


One of the hard parts of life in Congo is the "insecurity".

We use this term often to talk about the sense that Congo somewhat teeters on the edge of violence. Fighting could always break out, armed robbers could always show up at night.

But the insecurity amounts to more than that.

We have a friend who is a poor farmer, in a rural region. He owns a small piece of land next to a big piece of land owned by an important person. And so he stands always on the brink of losing his small plot of land, his only livelihood.

Last week, people came onto his land and began taking his crops. He complained. And so he was put in jail for a week. He just didn't have friends on the right side, and someone else did.

His extremely poor family then spent the week buying the guards beers and handing off cash trying to get this elderly man moved to a less harsh prison.

Eventually they borrowed enough money to pay the system off, and get him out of prison. What will happen with his land is unclear.

And this is precisely the insecurity with which many Congolese live everyday. That which they have can always be taken away.

In the grand scheme of things, all that anyone has can disappear in an instant. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. All of our lives are in fact, teetering on the edge.

But here in the US, we live with the illusion of security. And with some sense that only God, or a huge natural disaster or some other force beyond our control, can rip out of our hands that which we believe is ours.

It is a different type of insecurity to know that the people living next to you can do the same.

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