Perkins in the Congo

Come on Perkins; keep up Man!

Sorry Sir; it's my porter; he's a bit slow.

"Slow"? What's the matter with him? Has he been sipping the jungle juice, or what?

No Sir. It's his foot; it was hacked off by a Hutu ...

Oh, I see. Well, we're here to put a stop to that sort of thing.

Yes Sir.

Good to get out in the field again, eh Perkins. Right at the coal face; where we can have a real effect.

If you say so, Sir.

Oh come on Perkins; Carpe Diem and all that ... but I must say, you look a bit nervous!

Well, it's not exactly Hampton Wick on a Sunday afternoon, is it, Sir? I mean, there's fighting raging all around. And plenty of Hutus on the rampage as well as Kabila's thugs.

For goodness sake, Perkins; it's quite safe. We've got the UN protecting us.

You mean, like at Srebrenica?

Oh come on Perkins! That was years ago. Anyway, "fog of war" and all that.

I believe it was a lovely sunny day, Sir.

You now what I mean. Anyway, our bodyguards aren't Dutch.

No Sir. They're Belgians ....

Well, there you go then ... Look, we have our mission, Perkins, and I'm jolly well going to fulfil it.

What exactly is our mission, Sir?

Didn't you read your briefing notes, Perkins?

Of course Sir, but they didn't make much sense. I'd rather hear it directly from you.

Well, as you know, it's an unholy shambles down here, and the PM says we have to talk to those invoved to settle the problem. "The only solution will be through negotiation." were his exact words.

Well, where do we start, Sir?

Well, we have to find someone to talk to of course ... just a minute; there's something going on over there! We could be in here, Perkins.

Yes Sir. I believe some Hutus are hacking some Tutsis to death.

Aha - we're on the right track. Let's go and negotiate an end to this.

(They walk over to the source of the commotion. Three Tutsis are on the ground, two clearly dead, with their heads chopped off.)

Errrhhhmm. Excuse me.

What do you want, you great white turd?

Well, we've come to talk about finding a solution to the fighting here. Can you spare us some of your time?

"Some of our time?" We're on a schedule, you know. Besides, this one's not quite dead. Give us a minute and we'll be with you ....

Well, errrm ....

(Two minutes pass to the accompaniment of various groans and screams ...)

OK Bwana. What have you got to say?

Well, ummmm, we in the west think that what's going on is really not quite cricket and we'd like it to stop.

Really ....

Yes, and we're prepared to do whatever it takes to help stop it.

Whatever it takes?

Yes, of course! Lives are at stake here.

What exactly are you prepared to do then?

Well; we'll talk it all out for a start; air each other's grievances, that sort of thing. Problem shared is a problem halved, and all that! Then send some advisors in. Maybe pay you a load of money for infrastructure, schools, that sort of thing. Fresh start. Forgive and forget ..... you know it makes sense.

I see. For a moment I thought you were going to say you were coming to kill those responsible for the genocide and for all the recent trouble!

Oh Dear me, no. We don't kill people! We help them back to leading a normal life.

Your ideas are interesting. I'll put them to the Interahamwe Committee.

Ah, very good. So you'll stop the killing.

Well, it's starting to get dark and there are no more Tutsis around, so we'll jack it in for the day ..... if you want we can talk again tomorrow.

Well, I must say that's a positive attitude .... see you tomorrow then. Same time, same place! Take care!

Back at camp

By Jove, Perkins, that seemed to go jolly well for a first session of talks, don't you think?

Silence ...

I'm not sure here is quite the place for talks though; bit rustic ....

Where do you suggest, Sir?

Well, possibly the Kinshasa Hilton would help people to relax more, get things off their chest, sort of thing.

If you say so, Sir.

Yes, I'll suggest that to the PM right away. Right Perkins. Good to finish the day on a positive note! We'll break out a bottle of champers, don't you think? I must say this talking business is rather good fun, don't you think? I really think we got through to those people!

If you say so, Sir .....