When people ask me how Africa was I always tell them that there is no place like it, out of all my travels it is the most indescribable. I show pictures and tell the stories of what we saw, but I am aware that people digest it as it relates to them, possibly with a image that is already in their mind and their preconceived notions. If I were to get off a plane or a bus in Goma and that was my first stop in Africa, I’d think about getting back on the plane. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret that. I have never felt so immersed and slightly insecure in a continent than I did the day we crossed the border from Rwanda into the Congo. After months in Africa we had slowly adjusted, acclimatised and forgotten most of the nervousness we had when we first arrived. By the time we visited the Cong, we had traveled by local bus and had accepted rides from strangers, found our own “simple” rooms (sometimes in the dark of night), crossed borders on foot and ate wherever we could find a place to eat. So when we stamped our passport in a small shack on the Rwandan border it felt many border crossings we’d already made. So, it was interesting for us to have our nervousness re-emerge, as it did in Goma.
What can I say? Goma is an interesting town and area. Surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, the famous endangered Gorillas and sitting on huge lake, it is beautiful. It is also internationally known for other reasons including the mass migration of Hutu refugees in the Rwandan Genocide which continues to cause a humanitarian crisis years later, the wars which followed the end of the Rwandan Genocide and now the ongoing conflicts between the FDLR and Congolese forces. That’s the type of place my wife and I spend our vacations! …Before I forget, the neighbouring volcano also erupted in 2002 and levelled most of the city, causing the residents of the town to rebuild on the lava. Truly a place that has more than its share of tragedies!
It wasn’t the type of trip where I could just snap away with my camera as using discretion is key in an already tense area, and I always try my best not to foist a camera on people that are suffering. Also as I was shooting with film and had a limited supply that I had to carry around in my pack for months, I was careful with the pictures I chose to take. So please enjoy the shots and I’d love to hear your feedback.
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A beautiful young girl we met atop a lookout.
Children playing atop a lava flow hill.
This is one of the major streets in Goma. Many have built there homes or small businesses atop what used to be the town street. The buildings are buried below but on occasion you could see the top of a building.
Local fisherman fishing in Lake Kivu.
A man I met with in the passport office.
A great example of how large the lava flow was. You can see a man running down in the bottom right and a few people in the center of the shot.