I hope you enjoy this short excerpt from my forthcoming memoir about working in the wilds of the Central African Republic, and the many adventures and misadventures that I got myself in. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to learn more!
” Despite the successes of the safaris, the year was off to a rocky start. Rebels from Chad began to spill into the country from the north, staging small attacks. It was as if to test the waters, and to see how effective the central African military was to respond to such attacks. It became clear, just how incapable the CAR military was at defending the country. Whole towns became under rebel control; usually towns of mostly Arab descent, far from the capitol of Bangui; towns like N’Dele, Bamingui, and even as far south as Bombari. On my way to the bush, I had ridden on a large Scania truck Erik had just purchased, carrying a load of supplies. I was the only munju on the convoy, and as we traveled farther and farther away from Bangui, we grew more nervous every day. We passed Bombari one day- which was the last town that could be reliably called under CAR control. Just beyond this, our truck overheated outside of a middle-aged farmer’s house, so we stopped for a break. The home-owner came out with a little food.
My men began to talk with him about the rebel activity in the area. The man, a darker-skinned African- looked around nervously.
‘ Yes, the rebels attack often,’ he said slowly.
‘They don’t bother me much, because I just give them what they want. What else could I do? They would kill me if I refused.’
‘Do the rebels stay in town?’ my driver asked.
‘Yes, I think so. I don’t know any more. Most of the town has become Arab. Many of them don’t speak Sango.’
The man was fidgety, looking around often, as if he were afraid someone was listening. A rooster began to scream behind the man’s hut, cutting off our conversation. The man went to investigate, and soon came back with a Mozambique spitting cobra dangling limp off the end of his machete. He threw it into coals of an old fire, and began to cook it. He killed the chicken too, which was going to die from the venom anyway. Nothing is wasted.
As we drove on, I couldn’t help but think about what the man had told us, about the rebels in the area. We stopped in a little frontier town and had a supper of buffalo stew and rice. We had been sitting for a long time, when a truck rolled up with a dozen African-Arab men inside, all wearing long robes. I had noticed a Fulani man laying down next to our truck, looking in terrible pain. I approached the man and asked what the matter was. He told me a cow had stumbled and fallen on his leg a few days before. The man’s limb was a swollen and bruised mess. I searched through my bags, and found a bottle of pain pills. I carefully instructed the man on how to take the dosage, and sternly warned him of the dangers of taking too much. I then discreetly handed him a small wad of cash. Tears welled in his eyes and he thanked me profusely, bestowing many blessings from God on me.
As I went to leave, I looked up to find two of the Arab men that had just arrived on the small truck were staring at me. They were intimidating fellows with sharp eyes. After a pause, they both nodded at me in approval for helping the injured man. As they turned to leave, a light wind rustled their long robes, and an AK-47 flashed from each man’s side.
‘Let’s get out of here,’ I turned toward my men, ‘right now.’ ”
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