You will write about me, or just portray me as Eliot Schrefer does in his novel Endangered. You will remember how tough it was to live in my territory in moments of war, just like Sophie. You will see me as place of unending irrational conflicts just like in the world of the novel, where we read: “The ruling forces of Congo have been fighting wars for years. When it wasn’t the Rwandans, it was the Ugandans. When it wasn’t the Ugandans it was the Zambians. When it wasn’t the Zambians it was the other Congolese.”(p.28)
If that is how you see me, others will, too. Sophie says that I am poor (p.5) and she sees me as the middle of nowhere (p.1). “[…] descending in the muggy and dangerous back of nowhere” (p.1) When you think about it the back of nowhere doesn’t exist.
Outsiders “non-Africans” who just see me on television and by other informational means just take what they read or hear as true. The fact of defining Congo as “nowhere” erases my presence from the world map or world itself and gives a role of imaginative place where nobody can have access to. Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, has said: “Showing people as one thing over and over is what they become.” And that is how Africa came to become one monolithic story about poverty, wars, lack of education…
You may think that is all I am.
But Sophie sees more than that in me. She has come back to work and do business in my territory. “I wound up concentrating my course work on international politics and development” (p.242). Sophie has been an outsider in her own country but has managed to become an insider, by making the choice to accept the nuance of a country that she once viewed as poor.
In his novel, Eliot Schrefer has made a single story multivalent. The darkness confirms what some people have thought and think about me. The end is light that makes me a better place where people can come, invest and invite others. He represented the two sides of my face and has made “a balance of stories”, as Chinua Achebe calls it.
If you allow a balance of stories, you are and you will be enlightened on how you see me.