``I didn't come here to find fault with Mobutu's regime, or to justify it. I wanted to explore life behind the newspaper headlines,'' explains this adventurous Flemish journalist, indignant and frightened when she is taken into custody with a photographer friend by Zairean police merely for plying a camera and talking with the locals. A childhood vision of the country, evoked by the tales of her missionary uncle, led to Joris's desire to see the Congo. She finds guides and friends amongst those who remember her uncle, and also through her own gregarious and empathetic nature. She gets deep into the country through bush, forest, villages and cities, dances all night in a local dive, takes a boat up the river, encounters pygmies, befriends depressed European-educated intellectuals and cynical bureaucrats, sleeps in native hotels, and observes the unresolved struggles of a country on the far peripheries of the Western world whose intrusion has left its superficial imprint on traditional ways without a synthesis. Not the country her uncle described, the Congo--both people and land-- becomes palpable in Joris's engaging and disturbing report. (Oct.)
When she was a child, Joris's missionary uncle traveled to the Belgian Congo and returned bearing gifts and telling wonderful stories. As an adult, Joris traveled to contemporary Zaire in order to see what her uncle had seen. She found a persistent memory of colonization and of the ``other,'' finally making the colonial past and its consequences the main motifs of her book. The boat to Zaire, the urban areas and Kinshasa, the ``bush'' and interior--all are described in a clear personal voice, with a journey on the Zaire river to the town of Kisangani the high point of her adventure. The people she met, rather than any view of nature, motivates her writing. Because this travel book has a particular vision--it is especially concerned with the Belgian version of Africa--it will appeal to a select audience.-- Gene Shaw, Elmwood Park Lib., N.J.
Joris, a Flemish journalist, appears to be a most intrepid traveler as she relates the experiences of a lengthy trip throughout the Zaire of President Mobutu. She visited the discos of the rowdy Matonge district (shunned by compatriots living and working in Kinshasa), took an amazing boat trip up the Zaire River, and was imprisoned on suspicion of spying after unwittingly trespassing on military property. Her once youthful fascination has resulted in an ability to achieve real connections within a difficult country. Detailing Zaire's history, current political climate, and the living conditions of its people, this is a mature, enlightened account by a woman of intelligence and expansive humanity.