Celeste called for me early this morning.
I followed him down the corridor past praying Muslims to the cigarette smoke filled bathroom.
There, a man, let’s call him Steve my supervisor, flicked water from a soapy bucket onto the floor like he was hosting a YouTube tutorial. I think Steve has double jointed wrists, because his hand moved like a propeller.
He took a large brush and scrubbed the floor like he was in a Broadway musical, that is to say, he faked it.
When he finished his performance, he, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, handed me the brush and pail, then nodded, as if to say –you got it?
Now, I doubt very much there’s ever been a Muzungu in that jail.
These men mostly, almost entirely, all seem to be in hopeless positions.
Seeing a white guy clean their bathroom was a treat, to be sure.
Like Dairy Queen for a diabetic.
I appreciated that perspective.
I’ll clean the bathroom, no problem.
You guys can watch and laugh, I get it.
And that’s how it went down, I washed that bathroom good.
As an ever changing procession of smoking prisoners jockeyed behind me, at one point even peering over one another, like it was opening night for P.T Barnum.
As I was just about finished a tall muscular man popped a squat and took a shit in the toilet I just finished cleaning.
Probably a bucket list thing for him.
I was then told to wash the clothes I entered jail wearing. So I filled a pail and had to wash all the names written on my white pants, away.
After I respectively honoured my duties, I retired to a distant, less occupied cell.
There were several men rhythmically reading the Koran in deep baritone voices.
This room had a six inch wide by three foot long rectangular window at the top of the stone wall.
Through it, sunlight poured into the jail, and onto me.
I sat in the shadows and cupped pure sunlight in my clean, glowing hands.
As beautiful Muslims sang their love and respect for god on either side of me.
I was soon summoned by Nyembo, the man with one eye, apparently (I was told) he lost it in a grenade fight.
He moved the three of us outside.
I never saw those men or played the“go to jail” game again.
Knowing that they exist there, in this terrible place based mainly because of suspicion. corruption and political posturing.
Feels, not so good.
Like the Chimpanzee I saw in the Kisangani jail.
I want to help, but don’t know how to?
So here’s some chips.
Pascale the old lawyer for DRC CIA had the three of us go to his office where we spent the rest of the day repeating ourselves.
At the end of the report the agency’s Chief entered the room read the report and said in English “blah blah blah, there’s no problem here”.
Celeste had a hushed French discussion with both Pascale and the Chief, then whispered “Do you think you can give fifty dollars to this father and this father?”
What the fuck do I say to that?
Call my embassy?
Can I think about it?
Will you do 35$?
“Yes Celeste, I’ll give them money.”
Realizing I was becoming totally conditioned, absorbed even, by the corruption.
I was tired.
The fire to fight in me was dying.
That night I was told to sleep outside under a small TV.
Several solders gathered around to watch Kung-Fu.
Now, me being a very clever Muzungu, I saw that the chief was using a flash drive with several films saved on it.
When the soldiers went to sleep, I took the remote and looked through all the films, deciding quickly to watch Megamind, it was in French, but glorious never the less.
The Mosquitos were brutal, but the early morning thunderstorm paired with a good cartoon put me someplace good.
Like St Elmo…
My fire was returning.