There are many incongruities in Africa and every time I fly downwind to land at the Dungu airstrip I fly over one. There is a castle, yes, I said a castle, on the banks of the Dungu and Kabali Rivers. It often rises out of the misty morning ground fog so out of place I find it almost impossible to believe.
I guess the story goes that the Belgium Territorial Administrator, a man named Schollaeret, was tasked with the operation of building a bridge over the river Dungu. Instead of building the two lane bridge that he was supposed to, he opted instead to build a one lane bridge and to build himself a 40 room castle with the remaining bricks. It is a wonder, I can hear you saying, that a politician could do such a thing even in Africa, but there you have it. It was 1942 after all and another time.
You can tell it was a thing of beauty in its’ day, although it’s now run down and covered with vines and creepers with trees growing out of the roof. The UN has a base all around it now and the courtyard is full of lorries and Hummers. And are those officers’ quarters by the front entryway? There is quality workmanship to be seen and with the vaulted ceilings, large cut stone floors, arched windows & doorways and the parapets around the top, it is something right out of medieval Europe. All right here in the back of beyond in Congo. Not far from the displaced people camps, humanitarian workers and LRA. Amazing!
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