Congo-Brazzaville is a bit of a myth for us living in Congo-Kinshasa. It's a little like the lost Garden of Eden. My colleague who have been there tell me that there are real taxis; life is calm, cool and relaxed; there are roads, landlines and great restaurants. It's a bit of aberration because the two capitals are so close to each other yet so different in term of development. The people are meant to be well behaved and a lot less intense then here. And of course, Brazzaville is a much smaller city than Kinshasa, so there are less people crowding the place.
We often speak of the day when we will organize a weekend trip to famed Brazzaville. One day...one day...
So, in the other Congo, things are happening. The ex-president of the Republic of Congo, Kolelas, is currently living in exile in Bamako, Mali.
"In 2000, a Brazzaville court sentenced Kolelas to death in absentia for a range of crimes committed by his militia including torture and the rape of prisoners during the nation's bloody 5-month-long civil war in 1997."--CNN.com, October 14th, 2005
Recently though , Kolelas' wife, Jacqueline, died from a brain hemorrhage. The current president Denis Sassou-Nguesso (who got elected in a fair process in 2002) allowed Kolelas to come back from an 8-year exile to bury Jacqueline in Congo-Brazzaville.
But of course, it's a lot more complicated than that because:
Kolelas' return comes amid a sharp escalation of tensions in Brazzaville, where so-called Ninja rebels once loyal to him battled security forces a day earlier in a brief clash that killed six people.
It was not known what sparked the clash or if it was related to Kolelas' impending return.
--CNN.com, Friday October 14th 2005
We were discussing this situation over dinner yesterday and a friend relays that her colleagues exclaimed "We're not surprised this happened, the Congolese over there, they're really crazy"!