lost congo memoir

Category archives for lost congo memoir

“First, we’re going to collect our data,” Jack, the archaeologist, was telling me as we slogged down the narrow overgrown path. He seemed annoyed. “Then, we’ll leave. Until we leave, they won’t leave. They think it would be rude. After they leave, we’ll go back and map in the abandoned camp.” I had just arrived…

At the beginning of the 20th century, a traveler in Central Africa made mention of some strange people that he had come across. He was traveling among regular, run-of-the-mill natives…probably Bantu-speaking people living in scattered villages and farming for their food. But along the way, strange people came out of the forest. These strange people…

King Leopold’s Soliloquy

I first became aware of, and read, King Leopold’s Soliloquy, which is not his soliloquy but a parody of what he might say according to Samuel Clemens, while doing fieldwork in the ex-Belgian Congo. That is where the real story that inspired the essay took place. I lived in an area that at one time…

We were talking about insects, and eating insects, and this reminded me of something funny. I was traveling in the most remote part of Central Africa, several days walk from any place you could possibly drive a car, visiting uncharted villages mainly occupied by people who had moved into the deep forest because they were…

We were discussing insects. What about eating insects? When it comes up that I’ve lived in the Central African Rain Forest, certain questions often come up, and one of them is: “Did you eat bugs?” Every one has seen those National Geographic specials where some natives somewhere are eating insects, and of course, Westerners who…

I knew a couple who had spent a lot of time in the Congo in the 1950s. He was doing primatology, and she was the wife of the primatologist. And when she spoke of the Congo or Uganda, where they spent most of the time, she always said “The thing about Africa is that there’s…

Acupuncture is the ancient East Asian practice of poking people with needles in specific places and in specific ways in order to produce any one of a very wide range of results that could generally be classified as medicinal or health related. I don’t know much about it, but Wikipedia tells us:

I remember my first solar eclipse. I was a kid, and it was the one Carlie Simon sang about, in March 1970. (The eclipse reference is just past three minutes. Some other time we can argue over whether or not Carlie, singing in this video on Martha’s Vineyard, was referring to the March 1970 eclipse…

Floods: Don’t go in them.

As an archaeologist, my expertise in the cognate field of geology includes fluvial processes, so I know something about floods. And I’ve experienced plenty of floods working in the Hudson and Mohawk river valleys … now that I think of it, I’ve got quite a few good flood stories. But the most significant experience I’ve…

Day of the locust. Yum!

Continuing with the theme of eating insects …