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In the editorial of the April issue of CMJ, Jane Werniuk wrote of African unity, which inspired Ren Coda of Val d’Or to write: "It’s funny how people can generalize. Africa is a case in point. While much of the horror related in the media happened and is still possible, it remains that what happens in a given area does not occur elsewhere.
"Take the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I would not advise anybody to go for a drive in its Eastern part, namely the Bunia, Kisangani and Bukavu or Goma areas. It is a disaster area where people shoot first and ask questions after. Besides, I would not rule out the possibility to end up, at least partly, in a saucepan. It happened, and may happen again.
"In this respect, Mel Lastman [who jokingly feared being eaten by cannibals] was not wrong. This is a part of the country where a personal militia is a necessity. It would be even better to fly and not venture on almost impassable roads, running through thick rainforest, where one can be ambushed at every step.
"On the other hand, areas like Kasai and more specifically Katanga provinces are comparatively much quieter. Granted, it is not recommended to stroll alone, at night, into the old native neighbourhoods (cits indignes). Yet one can go about his business without being bothered. One would be surprised how these guys turn protective towards somebody they trust.
"In 1997, I had to spend a night in a village of gold-washing people, a six-hour walk from the main road. While I and my partner slept on rudimentary beds in small huts, our people and the village chief slept on deckchairs laid in half circle in front of our doors. Nobody could have bothered us without their assent. I did not ask for that; they did it all by themselves. And it was in the area between Bunia and Kisangani. But those were quieter times."