A long line of visitors waited for hours to speak with Mbandaka native son M. BOETSA during his stay last summer. Living next to him in the duplex housing at the “Maison des Missionaires” I had the opportunity to get acquainted with this esteemed native son and learn the reason for his return.
During the colonial era, the Belgians had built in Mbandaka what they envisioned would be the first and only Institute for Tropical Medicine in Central Africa. Independence scuttled those plans but a Belgian foundation now wants M. BOETSA to carry out the original vision of a medical research center in Mbandaka. Having caught wind of those plans, the Congolese Ministry of Education has asked him to also consider assuming the post of C.E.O. of the University in Mbandaka.
For more than twenty years, he has raised a family and taught biology at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. Raised in the Disciples church, BOETSA told me about his baptism at the Mbandaka III cathedral church and how his parents continue to participate in the Ikongo Wassa Disciples parish of Mbandaka. When I told him of my friendship with Pierre Sangana, now resident of Indianapolis, BOETSA exuberantly described Pierre’s son Georges as one of the most respected surgeons in Paris. He also noted that Pierre’s daughter Aimee, now living in the San Francisco Bay area, had ignored his childhood crush.
M. BOETSA returned to Paris at the end of last summer to ponder the logistics of maintaining a home in Mbandaka and one in Paris. He planned to return with his wife on his next Mbandaka visit and planned to again stay in the “Maison des Missionaires”. His wife had rejected the Ministry of Education’s offer of a large house in town in favor of staying next to the river and enjoying the porch’s cool breezes.