Rainforest Photo Gallery

 

Forest and Congo River (or part of it!) at Mbandaka

The Equator Province is the greenest swath on the map of the Congo.  The Province does not have the diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt and other rare metals of the eastern, central and southern provinces.  It is the poorest and least developed of the Congo’s provinces. It is the Congo’s Mississiippi.

Dense tropical rain forest covers much of the Province.  One flying into Mbandaka for the first time might wonder if anyone lives along the great river pilots follow on their way to Mbandaka, the provincial capital.  Congo’s rain forest of the Equator Province was described unforgettably by Joseph Conrad in The Heart of Darkness after his Congo travels in 1890:

“Going up that river was like travelling back in the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.”  (The Heart of Darkness and The Congo Diary, Penguin edition, p.59)

After his own travel up the Congo River in 1925, French writer Andre Gide wrote, “I am rereading The Heart of Darkness for the fourth time. It is only after having seen the country that I realize how good it is.” (Travels in the Congo University of California Press, 1962, pp. 292-293)  Forty years into Belgian rule in Congo, Gide was concerned about the effects of deforestation in Equator Province.  “I am inclined to think that this continual deforestation, whether it be systematic and deliberate or accidental, may bring about a complete modification of the rain system.” (p. 58)

The following gallery of photos were taken in the rainforest of Equator Province during my Congo visit last summer.

Fallen tree on the road to Ingende from Mbandaka. A half hour delay only
That's Rev. Eliki BONANGA, Disciples President, greeting a family traveling by pirogue to Mbandaka

Pothos plants grow bigger in Congo! So do papayas!!
Unique rainforest fruits the "metanique" on the right and "safo" on the left
Ikengo children offering a "mondimbi" fruit to the "mondele" white man
Following the baptism in a roadside pool of Ikalenganya parish
Breadfruit tree - the leaves are a favorite image in the cut outs of Henri Matisse
Five of us helped baptise 41 youth on 7/11/10 in Ikalenganya parish
Rainfall averages 85 " a year at Mbandaka; we're used to 14 " in L.A.
Taken on the porch of the Disciples guest house, Mbandaka
"There was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head n the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost inthe depths of the land." Conrad, H of D, p. 22

Protecting the Rainforest

Small village on the banks of the Ruki River between Longa and Ingende

 

The rainforest of the Congo, second largest in the world after the Amazon, faces multiple threats today.  Logging, both legal and illegal, has stepped up considerably in recent years with barges moving the huge timbers down the Congo River to Kinshasa on their way to Europe (see The River’s News posting of 6/24/10).  

 

 

In  a recent blog Congo Disciples Communications Director Nathan Weteto reported a new threat to the rainforest of Equateur Province.  Providing electricity for the city of Mbandaka, which is without  power more than half the time, can’t be a bad idea. Or can it? Read on!  

(from http://natana.tumblr.com)

“The tropical rainforest is currently a world heritage that everyone should protect. 

But now, the province of Equator province in the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently negotiating with Finnish businessmen to exploit the rainforest on a massive scale.    

The project consists of cutting trees to use the wood to provide electricity 24 hours a day for the city of Mbandaka, the capital of Equator Province, a city whose economy cannot take off due to lack of electricity.  Presented as such it is a wonderful and fabulous project, but what is the price?

The plant to be built will consume 1,000 cubic meters of wood per day! This means that trees taken into account and which would produce the wood amounts to how many? And if for one month of electricity it would require 30,000 cubic meters, what will protect the forest?
These mid-sized trees common to the rainforest of the Congo Basin stand in the parcel next to the "Maison des Missionaires" where most Disciples guests reside in Mbandaka.

 

 

Let’s stop this catastrophe if we can.”

 

The Rainforest Foundation of the UK sums up the case for preserving the jungles of the world, that of the Congo Basin being the largest after the Amazon: 

 

“Worldwide, forest destruction generates more greenhouse gas emissions each year than do all the trains, planes and cars on the planet. So if we are to tackle global warming, there is an urgent need to find ways to reduce the 14% or so of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by forest destruction each year, and to keep the remaining forests standing. 

(from www.rainforestfoundationuk.org)

The non profit Greenpeace International opened an office in Kinshasa in 2008 to lead its campaign on behalf of the Congo’s rainforest. For information on the illegal logging taking place in Equateur Province go to:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/forests/africa/ 

Leaving Longa

The twenty five horsepower motor fired right up and the ten or twelve passengers settled into their plastic chairs or into their nests at the bottom of the pirogue. Before sitting we sang, “Biso tokobima na mpusa matembe/ Tokotambolaka nde nkolo Yesu”.

We are on the Ruki River which connects the mighty Congo to the Tshuapa, the tributary which has served as the route of successive waves of rebels seeking to overthrow the feeble governments of the country. The Ruki flows into the Congo at Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province, the least developed of the Congo’s 10 provinces. Equateur’s capital is also the headquarters town of the “Communaute Disciples du Christ au Congo”, number ten among 65 “Communautes” now making up the Church of Christ of Congo.

“We leave now on the next step of our journey/ The journey we walk together with our Lord Jesus” we sing before taking our seats in the pirogue. On our way, we all think of the Regional Minister for the Ingende/Longa Region who died in the Ruki just below Longa. On a night with little to no moon five months before, his over loaded pirogue had capsized and fifteen drowned. After we sang someone prayed for the deceased’s widow and family still living in Ingende where we would spend the next two nights.