Country: Congo RDC
From birth to the age of 10, well… so much happened in those 10 years but normally when you’re that young there’s not much that you can remember. They say good things stay with you forever, well as cliché as it sounds it’s actually true! Talking about the good things, one thing I remember is Congo’s delicious food wow! The taste was so succulent and mouth watering with so much flavour. The food was cooked on coal which we call makala in lingala ( Congo’s native language) , the authentic traditional cooking with local produce always made for an amazing meal!
Things were different in Congo when it came to having breakfast, lunch and dinner. In an average UK home you can usually just wake up in the morning, go to the kitchen and see a fridge full of food that you can grab ready to eat. In Congo it wasn’t always that way, we had to go to the market almost every day due to the lack of electricity we couldn’t keep too much food in the fridge otherwise it will get spoiled. On the other hand it was nice going to the market, I remember the music playing from bars on the way, you see people gathering at a local open restaurant/bar and just having a good time. I would describe Congolese people as full of energy, happiness, laughter and love a lively ambience, even though our country has been through so much.
In the market I remember hearing sounds of taxi men shouting about the location it’s going to, so much beep!!! beep!!! from cars, sellers inviting buyers to their stalls and saying how they have the best prices and stuff. Yeah it was very loud as you can imagine, you might be thinking car noise near the market? yes! the market that I went to was very near to the main road. I remember it being full of hard working people with a business mind, thinking back it makes me realise how business minded my people are, they work so hard to have a better life and so they can put food on the table for their families. The fruits and vegetable looked so fresh, full of colours, it wasn’t imported or travelled from a different country. These were locally produced, and let me not get back into the taste because I can go on and on about it but allow me to give you a sense of the pleasure of a single bite, in one phrase I would say full of life.
In Congo as a child I remember being so independent, the freedom we had you can sell from your own home by having a stall outside your house or putting a sign at the door with details on what you are selling and people will just knock and buy. I even did that myself but I didn’t need the money, I did it because I found it fun and I actually made some profit. Me and my friends played a game called liyoto where we dug the ground to make a hole and added coal, lit it up and used the empty tomato can and actually cook, that was fun maybe it’s when my love for cuisine was born, who knows :-). On the other hand although we had so much freedom there were also rules, one of them was not being allowed to walk outside after a certain time and this was because Congo suffered from civil war; something that is still an issue in the country to this day. Thankfully I never experienced any of the violence but I remember hearing the gun shots outside in the streets.
The homes in Congo were very different most people lived in single compounds as opposed to the attached housing of the UK. When you enter in there’s a big front garden and then you get into the house. Speaking about the houses let me tell you about the neighbourhood, I remember walking down my road and being able to point out every door and the people that lived there. I loved that about Congo compare to the UK, you knew the neighbours and you kind of become family, although there were confrontations between some families most of the time it was great knowing the neighbours. I remember walking down the streets and seeing people just sitting outside and chilling, playing cards or chess. The sand and rocks that made up the bumpy pavement under my my feet and my trusty sandals taking me wherever I want to go.
Looking back on how young and independent I was and how much freedom we had in Congo this will lead me into my next blog. Next I will go more in depth on the freedom and I would like to tell you about my business story at the age of 8…
Written by Princese Bopu