Kindu Paradise

I’ve now been in Maniema Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for two months of a six month humanitarian logistics placement with Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin). Most of the past two months has been spent in the small city (large town?) of Kindu. Kindu is on the Congo River (though at this point in its epic journey toward the Atlantic Ocean, it’s known as the Lualaba), with a small part of the city on the east bank of the river and the vast majority spread along and away from the west side of the river:

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On the way from the MONUC-controlled airport into Kindu, visitors are greeted by a big sign that says in French, “The revolutionary city of Kindu welcomes you”

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Here’s a map of the eastern part of DRC with Maniema Province in white and Kindu in the middle:

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Kindu’s roads are mostly dirt roads which aren’t in terrific condition, but they’re far better than the ridiculously bad roads in expat-saturated / NGO-saturated Goma. This is looking toward our home just after the car in the distance, on the left hidden behind some trees:

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Looking north along the main drag in “downtown” Kindu:

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Looking south along the main drag, with the MONUC headquarters on the right and the Catholic cathedral in the distance:

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When I first arrived in Kindu, it was still rainy season so rainstorms and lightning were pretty much daily occurrences. At our house, we have a paillotte (think gazebo with straw roof), which offers relatively good protection against the downpours:

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We collect rainwater in a 1000 Litre plastic tank, because the city water doesn’t always work so we need a backup supply. Of course it doesn’t work very well with the lid closed, so a minute after this photo, I opened it:

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There are also cats which appear cute in this photo but in reality are very annoying and catch no rats:

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And there are loads of toads:

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Our office is behind the MONUC headquarters:

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There are also palm trees at the office and a moon in the background:

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As I mentioned at the start of the post, Kindu straddles the Congo River. To cross, the vast majority of people take pirogues. A pirogue is a sort of canoe made by hollowing out a tree trunk. Most are human-powered, with long paddles that seem like oversized spears. Some have Honda outboard motors and charge a bit more for the crossing. They range in size from a capacity of one boatman and zero passengers up to a hundred passengers. Sadly, the biggest pirogue capsized a couple weeks ago, drowning the majority of the passengers on board the overloaded vessel.

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There are two watering holes where the few expats in Kindu, and some upper class Congolese, go for the occasional afternoon beer looking out over the water: Le Palmier which has been flooded since March by the high river…

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…and Vero Beach which is only partly underwater and offers some nice sunset views out over the river:

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April 28th was my birthday, so a fellow intern named Steve made me a Pringles cake (Pringles are a real luxury in Kindu!) and gave me a coconut which was deeelicious!

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Although a Google search for Kindu brings up a few negative reviews, and Tim Butcher wrote rather dismissively of his 2004 visit to the city in his poorly written travel diary Blood river, in fact Kindu in 2010 is a quiet but pleasant city. Some might even call it paradise:

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21 Comments

  1. Jackie May 24, 2010 at 17:46 #

    Amazing, Christopher.

  2. Lisa May 24, 2010 at 22:13 #

    These photos are great. I really like the ones looking south and north. That sunset is magnificent! And they may be annoying, but those cats are adorable. Are they putting their noses into another cat’s belly? At first I thought they looked a bit like young silver foxes hiding behind their mom’s tail :)

  3. GERMAIN LULA August 21, 2010 at 10:18 #

    Hi, I live in Dublin more than 10 years, I was born in Kindu. Ieave Kindu to early when i was child, but i missing my city and peuples. I like all photos and only one place i can remember is cathedral st esprit church, because 10 years old i worked to the church like(servant de messe de Dieu) i want to be in relationship with you. please i need more photos and more information from Kindu. Thank you

  4. olela September 25, 2010 at 11:36 #

    Bonjour,
    Merci pour les images CES et commentaires sur this ville meurtrie du Maniema en RDC . Je Suis originating of this Coin Perdu du monde . JE suis né à 117 km de là à Kibombo . l’après “avoir voyage Congo de l’ONU au PEU partout , à 20 ans Je me suis exilé en Europe et actuellement je vis en Suisse DEPUIS plus de 30 ans .
    Je Suis Retourné à Kindu en 2008 l’après 34 ans d’ absence. This ville intérêt Complètement Isolé du Reste du congo et Tout est détruit et la situation y est catastrophique. Personnellement je souhaiterai rencontrer du monde qui pourrait créer une association pour aider ces gens qui ont vraiment besoin d’un coup de pousse pour repartir si la guerre comme les agresseurs venus d’ailleurs semble se calmer.
    Encore une fois merci pour les images de kindu maniema.
    jaholela(@)yahoo.fr

  5. Ulf Nilsson February 19, 2011 at 09:42 #

    Hi I would like to know about the language spoken in Kindu. How about the swahili that is used?

  6. The PhotoDiarist February 20, 2011 at 13:25 #

    Hi Ulf, most people in Kindu speak Swahili and many speak French as well. The Swahili spoken in this area is a bit different from what you might hear in Tanzania or Kenya, but my colleagues from these countries had very few problems understanding the local Swahili, and the Kindusiens have no problem understanding Swahili from the east coast of Africa.

  7. Donavon April 13, 2011 at 12:00 #

    What great pictures and commentary. I grew up in Zambia in the 1950’s and 60’s and loved it up there. This also looks like a great place to spend time. Don South Africa

  8. Kimoto Kungwa September 15, 2011 at 03:32 #

    I suddenly find myself in this website, but can still remember some places of Kindu. I was born at 117Km from Kindu (Kibombo), but grew much in Kasongo. Actually, I am living in South Africa where I work in the medical field. I hope one day I and family will pay visit in Kindu with the possibility to intervene in the health promotion of the all community.

  9. Micky Denne December 20, 2011 at 07:04 #

    Lovely to see Kindu again. I worked for Wimpey Int 1974/5 when we upgraded 5 airports in Zaïre and Kindu being the last, lovely people some of the drivers/operators were top class.

    When I left I always wonder what happened to the guys we dragged into the 20th cent’ for approx 3 years then leaving them all behind. May their god go with them.

    Micky Denne, UK

  10. Warui January 12, 2012 at 05:31 #

    In Kindu as I read this carrying out an internal audit of the Merlin office here. I like the photos

  11. didier dubucq January 31, 2012 at 06:36 #

    Bonjour,
    Je suis militaire en Belgique et en 2010 j’ai passé plusieurs mois à Kindu. Une expérience formidable avec des gens fantastiques.
    La région est en train de se reconstruire, une série de petits commerces voient le jour. Je pense que cette région oubliée de tous va pouvoir s’en sortir!

  12. Ambassa Mathieu April 15, 2012 at 22:20 #

    Merci pour vos commentaires sur ma ville natale de Kindu, et surtout les images. Suis de Kibombo a 117Km
    de Kindu, et je vie actuellement au Canada (Alberta). Suis très content.

  13. augustin June 29, 2012 at 12:52 #

    j’aime chez moi

  14. Kyombe Baby August 6, 2012 at 21:12 #

    Thanks for posting these pics, I was born in Kindu, I wanted to see anything on internet about my native city, and I find these pictures. Thank you for your time and for these nice pictures.

  15. peter September 6, 2012 at 00:26 #

    Hi
    Are there any ATM’s or banks in Kind?
    Thanks

  16. The PhotoDiarist September 7, 2012 at 01:46 #

    Peter, there were no ATMs in Kindu when I left in 2010, but they may exist now. There was a bank, but I forget the name, and I’m not sure how reliable it was. There are a number of banks in Goma, not sure if any have ATMs though.

  17. Shireen August 11, 2015 at 10:34 #

    Is there a road to Kindu that trucks and cars can pass on from Bukavu or Goma. When is the rainy season.

  18. The PhotoDiarist August 11, 2015 at 16:20 #

    Hi Shireen, I left Kindu five years ago so I’m not sure what the roads are like these days. I believe it is possible to drive that route, but your best bet for correct and current information would be to call one of the international logistics companies with regular operations out of Goma, such as Bolloré Africa Logistics. Good luck!

  19. John philipson November 27, 2015 at 13:06 #

    Nice to see Mickys comments about kindu. I worked for wimpey also on those airports starting at mbuji mayi in 1975 and ending at kindu in late 1977.
    Used to go to bar/club in middle of river / great memories.

  20. binti April 11, 2016 at 14:21 #

    Bonjour a tous je suis originaire du maniema ,comme par hasard je suis a l’internet et je vois kindu maniema et je vois les photos mon cour est tres touche de revoir ma region,que Dieu benisse celui qui a pense a cette partie du Congo

  21. istasse May 22, 2017 at 01:58 #

    Merci pour ces photos, j’étais à Kindu en 1963/64, j’étais enseignant au collège des Frères Maristes, merci pour ces photos.

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