We passed through Kigali airport like some kind of detritus that no washing machine could be coerced to swallow. As I recall, my socks were orange. A result of not being able to get them washed in the handful of days between returning from Fort Portal and needing to go home. Not that there weren’t opportunities, mind. Or water. Hell, those socks could have been washed in beer, and it would have been an improvement.
But what a waste of beer that would have been.
The journey to the Ituri was not what it should have been. I was promised rebels, and exploitation. Kids with sandals and automatic weapons. Like some horrific cereal box, promising vitamins and iron, but delivering only sugar, the place was nothing quite like its reputation.
It was undeveloped. Certainly. And there is little doubt in my mind that without the legions of blue helmets reaching out from the district capital, the men with guns would be quick to return and wreak havoc. But the helmets are there. And so the monsters, for the most part, are not.
There is footage sitting on my hard drives now. So much footage. Hours of interviews with people whose stories really need to be heard. And they will be. Video editing software is a pernicious beast. But one that will be wrangled into giving up a documentary of sorts in the next few months. Because ultimately, that responsibility to tell the stories is what legitimises the whole enterprise. The journalist gets to listen because he promises to pass the story on.
I did, and I will.
In the meanwhile though, as the wrangling persists, here is a short reel of some of the sights we saw in those days. Of the things that made those poor socks die when I finally made it home, and a suggestion perhaps of the flavour of the stories to come.