Central Africa Quiz #3

Peggy is preparing to head to Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC
right after Christmas for two months.
If you want to know more about her work there look
Here and Here

In the meantime, a harder question this time.
In Central Africa checkpoints are a major industry.
You can get stopped almost anytime, and anywhere.
The checkpoints are USUALLy run by government soldiers,
but not always, and you cant tell them from the rebel groups
or general bandits, because they all wear mix and match uniforms
from First World Surplus... Also being drunk on duty is not against
the rules of regular soldiery and "resupplying" by "general Aquisition"
is allowed.

So... These three fellows stop you somewhere near the border
between Rwanda and the Congo. Are you worried? Why or why not?

I'm worried, well, because I'm a wuss and it's the border between Rwanda and the Congo. But it looks like at least one of these guys has a camera, and I'd guess from their differing builds and facial shapes that perhaps they're from different tribal groups and therefore that maybe they're ok.
I'd be worried anytime someone with rifles stopped me. But you are blogging about it so, whatever happened, I would guess that it came out all right.

Will, I did not take these photo's - they are stock borrowed fromt he BBC - but they are very typical of my three months in Burundi in 2003.

You get numb to guys with AK's in a few days. They are the costume jewelry of Africa.

David Niyonzima and I did get shots fired over the roof of our truck at a checkpoint once - that story is conatined in this UPI column
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This is going to be a good exercize in observation!

Kenneth, it is good to be awake and aware on that border, but no reason to worry as a default setting. You are more likely to be bored to death waiting for your visa to be stamped than you are to see any real danger. The problme is that when the danger happens it is often severe.

There is no way to tell by looking, if these fellows are Hutu, Tutsi, or a tribe from the Congo. Niyonzima tells me that they can't tell each other apart - which was made abundantly clear when I found out that David and Felicity's children had no idea that one of their parents was Hutu and the other Tutsi.

Point to you for noticing the camera. The camera is extremely odd, and decreases the risk factor - but it is not the deciding factor.
Is the fact that they let their picture be taken a significant factor?

well, vail, it would not be unknown for rebels and bandits to like to have their picture taken

The defining Answer - is that the risk here is very low because of one thing. The fellow in the middle is holding a clipboard with paperwork. Rebels and Bandits NEVER do paperwork! These are official government guys and the worse you will face is a little shake down.
This past year, I have been editing some books on southern Africa written by southern African NGOs.

Over the past three years, there has been considerable effort to choke off the cross-border sale of ammunition in the sub-Saharan region. They've given up trying to stop the sale of arms, since an AK-47 costs one chicken (less than what a pair of shoes costs), due to Western dumping of Cold War arms. But they have made progress on reducing the number of bullets available for those guns.

So perhaps if you meet up with such guns, there is a greater-than-2003 chance that they aren't loaded.

A little bit of hope?...
nancy, there is lots of Hope!
But it did seem amazing to me that in a landlocked nation with no rail connection, and very few passible roads, where EVERYTHING was in short supply that they never ran out of bullets. Soldiers would go unpaid, but they had bullets, they often when without food, but they had bullets, when they had no food for the troops they just issued them LOTS of Beer - Bullets and Beer, not good things to have in abundance.
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