Sing it loud: the Lomami National Park Exists

Rehearsal of the Lomami National Park anthem for the 10th of December 2016.

In October 2016, a colleague from an international conservation NGO in Congo asked us, “Is it true there is a new National Park?” What? She didn’t know?

It was three months earlier, on the 19th of July 2016, that the Prime Minister of RD Congo signed the decree creating the Lomami National Park.

But how could she know?  The only celebration was in the distant province of Maniema whose government played a key role in the final campaign for the National Park.

the general director of the ICCN speaks
At a second ceremony on 10th Dec 2016 , in elephant suit jacket, the DG of ICCN addresses generals and senators, ministers and deputies.


Ambassador Swan speaks
The American ambassador (above), along with the chef of cooperation from Germany and the chief of cooperation from the European Union, addressed the gathering.

The whole nation should know. In Kinshasa on the 10th of December, even as President Joseph Kabila’s government reaches its official term, and opposition forces gather in the streets, the Governor of Maniema called for a national celebration.

mutual appreciation_government and conservation
Terese, of the TL2 project, and the governor of Maniema recognize the interdependence of conservation organizations and government to effect lasting land management for resource protection.

It happened the only way possible: Warring factions were in one room amidst lively music, ambassadors and embassy representatives, top people from top parks, army generals, international conservation organizations, presidential counselors, senators, deputies and a handful of traditional chiefs.

the chiefs from Kailo
The chiefs from Kailo

The disgruntled faction did indeed explode into choreographed battle. The ceremony was briefly taken hostage…but came out singing in the end.

Here is what happened:

a political tirade underway
A deputy of Tshopo stood up and demanded the floor right after the secretary general of the environment gave his words of welcome.

the speakers faced with walkout
The secretary general called him “out of order.” He is flanked, above, by the two governors, Maniema on left and Tshopo on the right.

Tshopo deputy reads manifesto
But, as tensions were rising, the deputy was given the mike to read the Tshopo manifesto. 

Their problem: Maniema Province was becoming park headquarters. Tshopo Province wanted the headquarters. And, more important, there was a land dispute between the provinces well to the east of the Park. Although it had nothing to do with LomamiNational Park, the celebration was the occasion to proclaim provincial rights in front of national authorities.

The Walkout
The deputies and the whole official Tshopo delegation walked out, insisting their governor come with them.

after the walkout
They insisted the Tshopo governor come, too. He left a vacancy at the table.

But the ceremony continued; the breech was filled, but it was now clear the two provinces would have a week of parleys after the ceremony finished.

The show goes on

The song goes on. The park is a wilderness of 8,874 sq km. No hunting, no habitation. It joins, as the 8th national park, those of previous administration (Virungas, Garamba, Kundelungu and Upemba) and the national parks born during Mobutu’s era (Salonga, Maiko, and Kahuzi Biega), Now there is a national park born during Kabila’s era: the Lomami National Park.

policier with calender
And everyone walked away with a calendar and a brochure.


  1. Amy
    Posted 2016-12-17 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, everyone! This is good news!

  2. Posted 2016-12-18 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    What excellent news! Congratulations DRC, john and terry and all involved. I still remain humbled by the story of my tiny effort and presence in the formation of this sanctuary.
    All hail!

  3. Becca Brackett
    Posted 2016-12-20 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Wonderful news!
    Is there a transcript of the Lomami Anthem?
    I plan to send it to Larry Long, the Minnesota Songwriter who works with children appreciating their elders.

  4. John Sullivan
    Posted 2016-12-23 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    So many years and so much effort in the making! Congrats to everyone and to DR Congo, but especially to Terese and John, two extraordinary people who I’m privileged to have met. Indefatigable is the word that comes to mind when I think of them!

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