While poring over dust-caked pamphlets in the library, Ben Rawlence stumbles upon the photo of a lost city of colonial Congo--a glistening, modern metropolis built by huge tin mines and European capitalists. Today, that city, Manono, sits beyond the infamous Triangle of Death,” in an area rarely reached by outsiders since war turned the country’s rivers to blood.
In this compelling debut, Rawlence sets out to gather the news from this ghost town in one of the most dangerous places in the world. Ignoring the advice of locals, reporters, and mercenaries, he travels by foot, motorbike, and canoe, taking his time and meeting the people who are rebuilding their homes with hope, faith, and nervous instinct. We meet Benjamin, the kindly father of the most terrifying Mai Mai warlord; Leya, who happily gives up a good job in Zambia to return to her razed town; Colonel Ibrahim, a guerrilla turned army officer; the Lebanese cousins Mohammed and Mohammed, who oversee the remains of Manono’s great mine; the priest Jean-Baptiste, who explains the conjoined prices of beer and normality; and the talk-show host Mama Christine, who dispenses counsel and courage in equal measure.
From the blood cheese” of Goma to the decaying city of Manono, Rawlence shares the real story of Congo during and after the war, and finds not just a lost city but the seeds of a peaceful future.
Ben Rawlence is a senior researcher on Africa for Human Rights Watch. He has written for The Huffington Post, Guardian, Prospect magazine, London Review of Books, and others and contributed to BBC radio. Fluent in Swahili, he received his masterís in international relations from the University of Chicago. He travels regularly to London, New York, and Africa as part of his investigative work for Human Rights Watch.
1. The Lost City
2. What You Wanna Go There For?”
3. Under the Volcano
4. Meeting the Colonel
5. Guerrillas in the Mist
6. Blood Cheese
7. The Waves on the Lake Are Not Negligible, My Dear”
9. A Fishless Lake
10. The Return, Part I
11. Trouble in the Mulenge Hills
12. The End Is Nigh
13. In Search of Goats and Gold
14. A Cruise on Tanganyika
15. The Intelligence Director’s Bath
16. The Forest People
18. The Guns of Moba
19. My Name is Zongwe
20. The Return, Part II
21. The Lake of Snails
22. Eating the Neighbours
23. Of Pigs, Rabbits, and Popes
24. La route principale
25. Beer and Normality
26. The Bend in the River
27. The Price of Tin
28. Electric Dreams
29. The News from Manono
Further Reading, Listening, and Watching