Ever been to the Congo?


Going through my secretary’s drawers when looking for some stuff for my 2015 tax declaration, I found an old wallet of mine, made of Louis Vuitton’s nice Épi leather, in a yummy chocolate brown, I instantly had to eat some, luckily I always have some bars at home, but that’s not the interesting part of my find. Inside the empty wallet was a single note, issued in February 1962 in the Congo, shortly after it had become independent, after the Belgians had lost their colony and years before Hergé’s “Tintin au Congo” had become politically totally incorrect. A friend of my mother’s gave it to me some years ago, she was staying there in the early Sixties and had told me all about these years, funny anecdotes, all of them much to her husband’s disapproval as he wasn’t part of the story, she had only met him years later. Most vividly I remember the one about her arrival: picture a young girl, very stylish, very concerned about her looks, having left Europe in mid-winter, in a red bouclé wool ensemble with matching coat and finding herself all of sudden in the heat of Leopoldville, on a gangway ever so close to the equator, lost in perspiration. You have to dress destination appropriately when you travel, she told me when she handed me that note as constant reminder of her wisdom. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to the Congo.



2 thoughts on “Ever been to the Congo?

  1. Aside from the wonderful writing and beautiful photos, this article forms a nice link with the earlier article you wrote about Graham Greene’s ‘The Comedians’ as Greene was also in the Congo which provided the setting for A Burnt-Out Case.

    Liked by 1 person

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