Greetings, oh followers of the SoG-YoG Blog,
I’m sitting next to a sleeping policeman (an officer of the law, not a speed bump) in the front seat of the Yaoundé to Limbé Guarantee Express bus, hurtling through torrential rain, most of which is being kept out by the windscreen but occasional drops make it through the side windows that need to be open a bit to stop us from misting up. Cameroon is such a beautiful country, even when it is raining!
My apologies once again for the break in communications. Long bus journeys, hastily convened press conferences, Ministerial YoG interviews and mini-seminars in restaurants and bus stations have filled every waking moment of late (and there haven’t been many sleeping moments either!), hence the lack of recent postings. A change in tactics is clearly called for. Producing long blogs a week after the event is rather missing the point of blogging, or so I gather, so I propose to keep you posted on my movements more regularly with brevity. In due course, and as time allows, I’ll fill in the detail, but at least those of you curious to know how the journey is going will be kept up to date.
Let’s take it from my abortive attempts to get an Angolan visa:
Tuesday 1st September: Redmond vs. Red tape
In Kinshasa, I was helped to get around by the UNEP Post-conflict office driver. Even with my Ordre de Mission from UNEP-CMS and a Ministerial intervention via Luanda, the staff of the Angolan Embassy felt unable to issue a visa without a letter of invitation. Telephone calls and emails to our contact in Luanda seemed to indicate one was on its way. The Gabon Embassy was more helpful and issued one the same day.
Wednesday 2nd September
To Angolan Embassy again, asked to wait again (though what for was not clear). While waiting, chatting to other patiently-waiting people about bus services to Angola led to a YoG interview with an Angolan architect working in Kinshasa. Technically we were on Angolan soil in the Embassy, and this was to be my only YoG interviewee from Angola. Rang Luanda again and unable to catch the words, handed the ‘phone to the consular officer, who learned that the letter of invitation had still not been sent yet, which is why it was not in his fax machine… I was running out of time, and there were no flights out of Kinshasa to any of my target countries, so I packed up and headed for the Beach to cross to Brazzaville again. There I took a taxi straight to the airport and found a flight going to Pointe Noir on the coast of Congo. On arrival, the Gabon Airways flight I’d hoped to catch was on the tarmac a few yards away, but it was full and ready for departure, so I’d have to wait until the next flight in the morning.