11 February 2010

The Congo

Recently Nick Kristoff has penned some of the most disturbing and moving columns that I've ever read in my life.  They're simply not graphic for their own sake; rather, Kristoff develops a diptych of immeasurable human cruelty and the indomitable human spirit. 

Here are the stories in one place.  I'll include the brief summaries provided by the Times website along with each link.  As a fair warning, they include graphic details.  Click on the titles of each to read.

Orphaned, Raped and Ignored

Published: January 31, 2010
The civil war in eastern Congo has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake, yet no humanitarian crisis generates so little attention.
From ‘Oprah’ to Building a Sisterhood in Congo
Published: February 4, 2010
In a land where so many “responsible” leaders eschew responsibility, an American has gone out of her way to assume responsibility and try to make a difference.
The World Capital of Killing

Published: February 7, 2010Congo has become the world capital of rape, torture and mutilation in ways that sear the survivors of a war that appears to have claimed more lives than the Holocaust.
The Grotesque Vocabulary in Congo
Published: February 11, 2010
Four steps to ending a war that subjects Congolese civilians to autocannibalism and re-rape


Anonymous said...

Indeed, there are so many awful stories that come out of sub-Saharan Africa. Sooooo many problems. I teach that in my class, very much toned down than what I am sure is in those articles.

Chris J.

mtjofmcap said...


That brings a question to mind... pedagogically, how you do approach topics with your students that are mind-numbingly bad?


Anonymous said...

Well...good question. It's important to keep the age of the kids in mind. My goal is for them to see/read enough of the details to have a visceral reaction, yet spare things that are too gory and inappropriate for the age. I think it is also important to learn why these things happen and to apply that to their daily lives. It is also important to use primary sources-stay away from abstract large number, focus on individual stories that reflect the whole (if I taught honors I would also use fact-based fiction). A multi-media presentation is good, too. That is not to say I am always sucessful. With Africa, I begin with the life expectancies in many of the countries. I get them to realize that, here, many of their parents are middle-aged or approaching it, while in Africa, they would be close to the end of their lives. From there it moves to the why: disease, war, poverty. I focuse on the impact on the kids their age: orphans and child soldiers. Since none of that stuff is in the text, I use articles. I use the Lost Boys of the Sudan as a good case study.
With the Holocaust, the most difficult thing, I think, is the first lesson, how do you introduce something like that? So, I have yet to master the first lesson, but the rest I think I have done pretty well following the above formula.

Chris J.