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Congo story in English.

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While the trial of the two Norwegians in Kisangani reached new heights,I was suddenly arrested, beaten up and thrown into a stinking toilet in the diamond city Mbuji-Mayi. There was no air and it stunk like hell Panic creeping over me.

I have lost hearing in left ear after being arrested. Before my hearing aid was stolen at another place in the Congo and I realize that I'm caught in something that might be my life nightmare. Thoughts raced through my head like a sting. I didn't know at all what brought me in in this situation

In the Congo and almost without exception I met friendly people.

But with the police I had the most problems. But I also know that this war-torn country has experience with white men as mercenaries and diamond hunters. Thought I am only one adventurer and a little crazy cyclist who has been on the road since the fall of 2005. In these four years I have cycled through South America, Central America, America, Canada (in the middle of the winter) and now in Africa, where were I been since the summer of 2008

It will not hide the fact that I some how underestimated Africa. It has been like riding a bike in an stove. Roads are miserable and diseases and health problems everywhere I didn't count it. It topped when worms began to creep of my skin. "Vi Menn Readers could read about in a previous edition. There I I had to get drunk to forget all this and to avoid the sight. My motto "never give up" has really been under trial in Africa, but a little more, and my self-imposed suffering is nothing compared to the suffering of the population on this continent . Poverty and the need to struggle has become part of every day.

All still seem to be so close. It even makes an impression when some of those who suffer most in world, are so hospitable and generous. I have been drinking palm wine and had some nice experiences down here. It is the advantage of taking from hand to mouth as I do. Of course I should regret. But the travel route was not one hundred percent planned and that my money purse was not filled with dollars, but I know it had been a completely different turn. Now I meet people for better or worse from literally all the world cultures and classes. I have lived and eaten with everybody from stone rich Americans to the world's poorest Africans.

Back to the Congo. I biked into the DRC of Congo July, after been in Congo Brazzaville. Already on the ferry that cross the river, dividing both states, I saw a police brutality. Folk that came from the DRC to Brazzaville, were beaten with a whip, while they stood in the queue. To me, without reasons. It seemed that people were used to this and accepted with there neck bent.

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On the ferry I met a backpacker from from Brazil who's name was Roderigo Cavalheiro. He had won a large Journalist award in his country and traveled around Africa. He found a place in a Catholic church and arranged it for me too. We went out to eat, and we were surprised by an over charged bill. After only five minutes the police showed up. They took us to a container station nearby. There, we asked that they should lower the bill, but then when we want go, but the police charged us $ 20 for the help. When we refused, we ended up three hours chained together in handcuffs. After two hours it began to get critically, when the policeman wanted my shoes.

I could get him of of that idea , but after three hours the man shouted: "Give me back my money!" At the same time he pointed his AK47 in my neck

The Brazilian was scared to death but tried to help me. I managed to push the police away from him and cried out nooooooo, it is alright. The other policemen calmed him down, and said it would be fine if we bought a bottle of beer him.

Container police house.

After all this i found that i should learn more about the conditions where i was traveling

I carried on my trip. I met a pastor Milenge Mwenelwata, who had with the Church's relief to do in Norway. And he gave me a letter from the head of this church that I was a tourist and that I should call a specific number if I ended up in problems. I also heard from others, including some French, who thought it wouldn't be safe to ride further. In my experience, I reminded to be welcome everywhere when I came on my bike.

Whilst I lived here my the hearing aid was stolen. I guess the thieves thought it was a mp3-player, at least, no one knew what a hearing aid was when I asked. Anyway, I went on with good cheer. I wasn't completely deaf in the beginning, I was blessed with fairly good roads. Eventually, the roads become trails, and it became heavier and heavier to ride on the sandy roads.

Several times I had to push my bike. It was a huge attention wherever I came. Adults and children stared steady, and I tried to hide myself behind a bamboo wall, but they stared through the cracks. Even at the toilet they were staring at me

On my menu there were several monkeys, rats and larvae. Believe it or not, it tasted really good sometimes. Other times I lost my appetite because the food was bad prepared. One day I saw a monkey being thrown over the fire without being skinned or cleaned out. The stomach exploded out of the skin, but it remained above the fire without anyone caring.

The poverty was extreme, I experienced that some of my things disappeared no matter how good I took care of. Half an onion was taken away by an old lady . Panties and stockings also disappeared. Everywhere I came, the police demanded bribes for everything. But the farther east I came , the worse it was getting away from the payment to the police.

I stay often with people or camped by the side of their houses because of security reasons. I came to Kananga and was short on money again. I asked at a military camp weather I could stay there, but the officer believed that my things would be stolen and recommended to go to the police instead. I did it, and lived there for three days. Again, an extreme begging from the police, and one ask me weather i like to buy uranium.

When I arrived in Mbuji-Mayi, again I was stopped by police and ordered to the immigration office immediately. Since it was Sunday everything was closed, and I had to come back the next day. A police officer followed me all day until I went to lay down in a guest house. The next day there were two men from the immigration police outside my room and I was told to come to their office. All went without problems and my visa was okay. The rest of the day went by to find Internet access, something that is really bad here.


The next day - 24 August - the president of the police stand outside of my room. I was really surprised. They wanted to see my passport and without even a look at it they said that it was something wrong with the visa. I had to join them to the office. I took along my day book in the case of the problems

Well in the office, which was an old Belgian colonial house, I was greeted by a bad mooded director. Again he said there was wrong for visas, etc. and he asked all sorts of things. I showed my day book, but instead of getting better things got ten times worse. they suspected allegations of military activity and that my bicycle was full of weapons without having checked my bike. My road map was now proof that I was involved in espionage and they demanded to look at all my papers. I took out letter that I had received from the priest in the capital but all in vain.

When they took the camera, computer, etc., I got a little frighted. I asked for a short break and walked toward the porch, but when they informed the director, they were ordered to keep me. I was brought to the cell which is actually a toilet place beside the office. I was pushed by four police officers. When they opened the door, the heat and a strong smell hit me. I realized that this was a closed room where the heat made the stench unbearable. A African lay on the floor there and he looked to me and said he was trapped there for several days. I had only one thing in mind"In, here I should not be." I held myself tight in the door frame and demanded to call some superior.

Then I was struck so hard on the left side of my head that I lost my hearing. No inside I knew it would begin to suffer and I had trouble breathing properly. Panic was not far away.

After an hour they released me, fortunately, but demanded me to sit on the floor outside the cell. I said no, but then came one with a whip made of wires and got himself ready to strike. So I sat down.

After two hours I was summoned for questioning again, and I said that my hearing had gone on the left ear. The policeman replied angrily that he would do the same to the second ear.. The Supreme commander came in and things calmed down. I got to hear that the mayor and the Norwegian embassy were informed.

I guess the priest found out about me and he telephoned the Norwegian Embassy and their contacts in this city

Finally they wanted to let me go, but the problems did not stop then, even though the day after I was told everything was in order with my visa. In addition, I should get a letter in which it was stated that I was a tourist, so I did not get further problems with other police on the road. A nice policeman visited me in the guest house, he apologized, but also told about the many problems it have been. Yet they didn't return my passports and electronic assets as computer and camera. I do not know what really happened, but suddenly I heard of the Norwegian press, which had an entire corps in place in Kisangani.

Theories were certain high for a few hours whether I had any connection to the two other Norwegians, but I didn't It is possible that the phones from the Norwegian journalists and embassy people provoked the police, because now they said that I was expelled from Congo because of bad behavior.

I decided to go to South Africa, but had to transit in Kinshasa. I was escorted by police to the airport and got result of a plane. I felt like a heavy criminal when I was escorted to the airport by four types with Ray-Ban sunglasses, and machine guns. Then again I was put in prison since the expulsion should be approved by the commander in the capital. When I was in that prison my video camera was stolen while I slept. For four days I was sitting in this cell. Without information about what going to happen with me.

I got more and more paranoia, and thought that the police may have had plotting against me, became more and more intrusive. One day, two senior executives from the embassy came to fetch me. They said I could leave the cell the same day and that they had booked a room for me on Grand hotel. "Heaven," I thought, but I was not long in paradise. We went in to the director to get the signature, but he said no and wanted me back to the cell. I would have to buy a ticket to Norway before they would agree to let me go go. they didn't tell me why.

Theembassy people were surprise, but couldn't do nothing more this day, It was actually the worst of all that had happened to me. Now, I was convinced that soon comes a false accusation and that it was only a matter of time before I sat in the dock. That night I could not sleep. I must say I hadn't barely for several days. But the next day everything was arranged for me and finally, I sat on the plane. I've never been so relievedand never, never the food in a airplane tasted so well.

Rune Monstad

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 November 2009 22:07 )