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Landscape of Kongo-Central

Image via Wikipedia

As I may have mentioned, my parents were missionaries with the Presbyterian church in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was then Zaire. My siblings & I, and all the MKs (missionary kids) we knew went to high school at the American School in the capital city, Kinshasa. It was a thriving school in those days, and gathered not only English-speaking children from Zaire, but also from Cameroon and Angola, including the younger brothers of Nancy Henderson-James, who recently published a memoir of her childhood in Angola, At Home Abroad: An American Girl in Africa. (I must take a moment to say that if you are going to read about a young Caucasian-American person growing up in Africa, an “Adult Third Culture Kid,” please either read THIS book, or else another autobiography, Gods of Noonday, by Elaine Neil Orr, rather than The Poisonwood Bible, which is very, very fictional, except for the historical facts.)

Anyway, Nancy’s blog of her return to Angola with her family is well worth a read. Start in June and read the whole story, lots of photos. Even when we were in school in Kinshasa, Angola was having troubles (and Zaire, while not as desperate as it has become, wasn’t an easy country to live in). Nancy writes:

Forty years of war. That is something to think about. Hundreds of thousands of Angolans fled the fighting, going to Congo, Namibia, Zambia, and other southern African countries. They fled from the land-mined countryside to cities within Angola, swelling them to megacity size. The country’s infrastructure suffered. The Benguela railroad that took me back and forth to school as a kid was destroyed. Roads were strewn with landmines. Agriculture came to a halt. Large oil reserves were discovered, developed and controlled by the government. The world’s fifth largest diamond cache fueled the rebel side.

Eight years of peace later, the country has undergone more enormous changes. I expect to be constantly surprised by what I see.

She is. And you will be, too.