National Geographic : 2015 Oct
100 national geographic • october 2015 into the forest. It was there, he says, that he and his family hid for a month in 1999, living off ba- nanas and cassavas and occasionally bush meat, while the Congolese rebels ransacked the family home. “Life isn’t comparable to the period be- fore the war,” he says. But, he adds, “I must con- tinue with the plantation. It’s important for my children. Plantations are stable. You can eat and send your kids to a decent school and be present to help educate them. It’s not much, but you’re stable.” He says that he sells his palm oil to the American plantation company for a decidedly monopolistic price. In the past few years both his profits and his dignity have taken a hit. He would like to recover both. Lately he’s considered expanding his rubber holdings and getting into cacao, which would re- quire $10,000 in seed money. Or starting a dairy farm, necessitating $1,500 for five cows. Perhaps, he suggests, I could be his partner. Or I could find someone from the West—not a sponsor, an investor—though his expression is downcast as he admits that Binga’s best days, such as they were, are in the past and that the future for his 12-year-old son, Celestin Jr., must lie elsewhere. “I want my boy to stay here in Binga, to develop Engine trouble and other mishaps delayed the Kwema Express during its voyage up the Congo. After eight months the barge finally reached Kisangani.