'All journalists have the same subjects on their pads when they arrive in Eastern Congo: rape, gorillas and child soldiers.' I quoted this observation of a friend living in Bukavu in my book Gin-tonic & Cholera. He wasn't far off. I also covered the widespread sexual violence in Congo and like many journalists had visited the famous Panzi hospital in this city where the victims are treated. Their suffering is hardly describable and it is a good thing that the cry for justice for these victims has become an international one. But the worldwide attention for this aspect of the problem has its side effects, as Dutch filmmakers Femke and Ilse van Velzen show in their latest documentary Justice for Sale
. They follow the case of Congolese Masamba, accused of rape. Their film poses the question what a call for justice means in a country where justice can be bought.
Remembered why I've always stayed away from showbiz journalism. No patience for celebrities. Now I'm working in Lagos on a report on the Nigerian film industry and I have no choice but to try and get it touch with them. This acquires some strategic planning. Someone's mobile phone number does not do the trick: as a rule important people – and those who feel they are – do not pick up their phones when they don't know the number of the caller. So it is paramount to find a friend of said big shot to make first contact from their phone. Although sometimes a text message with your foreign name might raise some interest. Thus the bigger part of my time I spend concocting phone strategies.(more)
One makes way for a Toyota Prado. Every pedestrian in Lagos is aware of this. On foot one has no rights here anyway, but for some cars one gives way quicker than others. The Prado is on top of that list. Big boys drive a Prado: ministers, ceo's, bankers. Imperative that it be the newest model though. The vehicle you drive is an indispensable part of your image in Nigeria's biggest city. Ranked number two on the drive to impress list is probably the Toyota Camry, nicknamed 'Muscle'. And since the popular governor of Lagos State gets from A to B in a Range Rover, other big oga's are seen in these 4X4's as well. But if you are driving the kind of car they call 'Pure Water': forget it. It concerns any model that is as common on the streets of Lagos as the bags of water that go by the same name. Those are for school boys. A pedestrian makes way for this piece of metal only because he is even lower in status than anyone driving a car. But a Pure Water is not getting his respect.