It may come a day late for Canada Day (July 1st), but I reckon a post is due on the topic of Canadiana here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Never before have I seen so many Canadian articles of second-hand clothing in a single place as I have since arriving in DRC in March. In Kindu, Lubutu, and Kisangani the Canadian clothes are everywhere. The first one I noticed was a shirt from a car dealership in Kelowna, and after that I saw dozens of Canadian shirts and hats, many with some sort of hockey connection.
Byeka, one of our drivers, has a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt:
One of our guards has a Vancouver Canucks / Molson Canadian shirt:
Another one of our guards sold me some Canadian money, which is not uncommon as they find it in the pockets of second-hand clothes. I had to explain to him that Canadian Tire money is not real money:
A Nepean (was a city from 1978-2001 before becoming part of Ottawa) soccer jersey sported by one of our storekeepers, Gédéon:
Omari, head guard, with a Calgary shirt:
In Otiandumbo, (a tiny village) close to Omoyaki (a small village west of Lubutu in Obokote health zone), I met these guys who were supposed to be making bricks for a maternity to be built nearby. They were quite drunk, but friendly enough to let me take a photo with the Barrie Bulldogs hockey jersey. I got a real kick out of this one because my roommate in my first year of university was from Barrie:
The head mechanic in Lubutu has several Canadian shirts, including one from Ontario Power:
On the streets of Kindu and Lubutu, it’s very common to see Team Canada hockey jerseys (and indeed hockey jerseys from dozens of different minor and major hockey leagues).
But the kicker for me was when I saw a UBC Thunderbirds jersey in Lubutu one day. Sadly, we were in a hurry to get back to the office so I couldn’t get a photo. A couple weeks later, we were 70km from home on the drive back to Lubutu from Kisangani in the middle of nowhere in pitch black darkness, with driving rain and lightning, at a speed of about 60km/h when I noticed two people standing in the bushes to keep a safe distance as we passed. The UBC T-birds logo was clearly visible on the chest of one of the two! For a second time, I had missed my chance at a photo of a UBC T-birds jersey in the DR Congo.
Luck would swing my way the very next day, however, when we rented a truck and some daily workers to help unload a plane full of medical supplies and transport them to our medical depot. As we showed up to the airstrip and met up with the daily workers, I could hardly believe my eyes – one of them had the UBC T-birds jersey! He must have been the same guy I saw in Lubutu a couple weeks before, and the guy the previous night was someone else who also had a UBC sports jersey. Anyways, here’s proof that in a relatively remote area of the DRC there is a UBC T-birds jersey: