Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Goma Glitterati

There are questions about the future of MONUC. Damning reports have come out in the last month from the UN’s own DRC Group of Experts; from Human Rights Watch, who claims MONUC has 1400 civilian deaths on their shoulders from the last eleven months; from the GoDRC, who is worried that the other reports will in turn lead MONUC to interfere further with FARDC.

I’ve felt a little bit of pity whenever I’ve seen MONUC men and women on the street, clutching their guns, in the grocery store, clutching their Christmas chocolates, ever since the first report was leaked a couple of weeks ago.

Not as much pity as for the civilians, though, whose peace they are not keeping.

In MONUC’s defense, how can you be a peacekeeper when there is such unsteady peace? Chess pawns & a lot of questions, that’s what there are here.

Last night I went to the bar DOGA with a handful of colleagues. DOGA is a famous bar amidst the Goma glitterati. It was my first time to go. I was picturing it as more disco-trashy, having heard the stories of the all-night-dancing and the prostitutes. Instead, it is warmer and homier than I expected. With a stone oven for pizza. (And with prostitutes.) With a metal-detecting wand waved over you as you enter and waiters who bring you extra peanuts if you ask really nicely.

I want to make friends with MONUC guys so I can get a ride on one of their helicopters. That probably is not appropriate, though. I want to make friends with the Cessna pilots in the city so I can stow away a hippo-counting mission. I want to get out into the field more and make friends with the women in the villages to join in their dances. Do people dance here, out in the villages? Or has dancing become a casualty of war?


Coming home from DOGA last night, we saw police around. Kabila is here in town, somewhere.