A True Story from the Lomami

But I just don’t get it.

Names are all important here. This young man was named Muyimbisa at some point of his infancy by his family. And he was called Willy as he was growing up, but now is mostly called ‘Conader’ because he is a demobilized maimai. CONADDER was a World Bank program “Commission Nationale de Désarmement, mobilisation et Réinsertion. Nice acronym name — right?
Conader Willy is mourning.
On our way down the Lomami river to Ngombe village, DRCongo, with the chief of Obenge in the cowboy hat
The pensive fellow in blue t-shirt and blue cap is Conader Willy.

He is living in Obenge on the Lomami River but grew up in the more populated (slightly) Bimbi region on the Lualaba.
A year and a couple months ago, August 2006, he was off in the forest in one of the many tiny hunting camps around Obenge. He was already ‘Conader’ and had moved to killing animals for a living rather than terrorizing people – an improvement– Right?
A very large hunting camp in the Tshuapa -Lomami forest, where i thought here would be none
A hunting camp between the Lomami and the Tshuapa Rivers

It was early morning and Conader had gone off to collect fuel wood leaving his wife, Tamasha, of whom he has only good things to say, alone with their two year old son in camp. A brigand, a maimai by the name of Bertha Bongenya Albert, (that is the name), swooped into camp with his bandit militia. Certainly Conader would have been killed if he had been there. Was it the settling of some old grudge?? Instead Bertha and his band made off with Tamasha and the son, Kabasele.
Bertha took them to Ngombe, an even smaller village than Obenge on the Lomami.
Ngombe, DRCongo, is sadly awful, during rainy season it turns into a swamp
The village of Ngombe during the rainy season.

Three months later, the son Kabasele was dead.
I don’t get it. Is there some hidden justice ? or just no justice.

And Conader’s wife, Tamasha, is still the third wife of the now demobilized Bertha.
I want Shakespearian justice.

Instead Conader Willy is mourning his son. He has not remarried.
He is now working for us, rather than killing animals for a living – an improvement–Right?
There is aubergine, tomatoe and cabbage here in the TL2 Obenge garden
Conader Willy is helping on the Obenge garden plots. They are growing well.


  1. Christine C.
    Posted 2007-12-06 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Ugh, what a horrible, horrible story. However, what a testament to Willy’s courage and committment that he continues to perservere in the face of so much adversity and atrocity. My very best to him and I hope that some day he and his wife will be reunited.

  2. Posted 2007-12-06 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    That’s a pretty terrible story. I think Willy should return to using his birth name, it has more dignity as befitting his more dignified new life. I hope he finds peace.


  3. Wanda, Atlanta
    Posted 2007-12-06 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Great comment Sheryl — ditto!

  4. Lisa, California
    Posted 2007-12-07 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Yes, that is a very sad story. I hope that someday Willy will remarry and have another son or daughter to make him proud. I can’t imagine losing a child. I too hope he finds peace and am so glad to hear that he is working for you planting obenge gardens. An improvement most definetly. I wish him well. Lisa

  5. cathy-california
    Posted 2007-12-07 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I will never be able to wrap my head around the level of cruelty that exists in this world. Regardless of past sins, the loss of an innocent child is a tragedy I would never wish on anyone. I hope that he can honor his son, rebuild his life and find some joy.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Remember Willy Conader? His wife was stolen by the Maimai and his youngest son died a couple months later in […]

  2. […] Remember Willy Conader? His wife was stolen by the Maimai and his youngest son died a couple months later in […]

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