Are you in front of a map of Congo? Look down to the south east corner of the Basin (and see inset below). Look for the river that makes a tight full circle – almost – before flowing east into the Lomami. Very “Through the Looking Glass” – yes? That’s the Unia River.
Then go to the most northern edge of that circle. Barely fifteen km north east is the headwaters of the Tshuapa flowing north. Barely ten km northwest is the headwaters of the Lukenie flowing west. Both are major rivers. Even more otherworldly – yes?
And what is in the middle? A relatively small rounded hill with a tiny town on top that is frozen in time. Katako Kombe, is the capital of the Territory of Katako Kombe on the south west edge of the TL2 landscape. I set out to visit it with the Chef from Kahodi, chief of the Arabisés.
Getting ready to go to Katako. I was on the AG and he was on the TVS.
I made the necessary visit to the Territorial Administrator, but my real tour of Katako Kombe was from a very kind, very friendly pastor who stopped at any point in our tour to raise his hands and intone for the people who came to ask his blessing. They were frequent.
Reverend Ben and I crossed the little hill-top of Katako Kombe going from his church to his home and back again. I met his family, his goats, members of his congregation and he convinced me that Katako Kombe is truly the high point of the basin, just as is shown on the map.
From this little hill some of the most musical songsters of Congo sing out over the basin.
We passed at least 10 lads with homemade guitars over their shoulders, each and everyone singing a song to himself or in harmony with a companion.
At one point we were surrounded by drummers and singers. They were celebrating the arrival of a local dignitary, but why not celebrate us too?
Katako Kombe may be a peak most of us had not heard of, but the Katako Kombians would not be surprised to know that they are indeed at the top of the basin…if not the world.