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I can think a few more hair raising predicaments to be and then to be suspended 60 feet above ground climbing a palm tree leaning back against a belt made of palm fronds and then suddenly to have a snake poke out a hit at you from a cluster of palm fruit. The National Association of educational broadcasters presents America's African heritage recorded in Africa by Skip Westfall program 12 by river boat up the Congo. Here is get Westfall today's recording comes to you from aboard a river boat moving up the Congo River. I had a pleasant surprise on this trip. You may recall on our first program which was broadcast aboard the African patriot in New York Harbor at the first mate had warned me about the terrific heat in the Congo. It's terribly hot on the Congo River at this time of the year he said. I don't envy you that trip. You'd be much happier back in Iowa. Well as a result of that warning I've been dreading this riverboat trip.
I pictured myself sitting at my typewriter with the sweat trickling down my face wishing that the misery of this trip were over. Well it hasn't been like that at all. It's been cool and comfortable ever since we left Leopoldville. I understand that sometimes it is uncomfortably hot on the Congo River. We seem to have been lucky. Most of the time there have been some clouds to cover the sun and the gentle breeze which is been very refreshing after the stifling heat of livable though this experience reminds me of a quotation from Thomas Jefferson who once said How much have cost us the evils which never happened. I suppose about 90 percent of the things we worry about never happen at all at any rate I've decided that it's a foolish idea to keep anticipating troubles in advance. Troubles which probably will never happen. The scenery as the boat moves slowly up the river is quite varied. This is the rainy season and the green rolling hills and stately palm trees are very beautiful now and then we creep along an area where
the forbidden swamps extend on either side of the river. As far as the eye can see the swamps do have their own kind of beauty. We see something else on the Congo River which appears beautiful but has become a terrific problem to river navigation. The floating islands of highest since three years ago not a single Hyacinth could be seen on the river. Today the water is dotted with millions of these floating islands. Some of them 20 to 30 feet long. The government has spent millions of dollars spraying these plans. But it's a hopeless battle. They multiply so fast that the most that can be hoped for is that the constant spraying will hold them in check. Shakespeare I suppose would have described the situation in these words a little fire is quickly Dr. No. Which being suffered rivers cannot quench quick action during the first few days that these obnoxious flowers made their appearance would probably have nipped it in the bud.
Now millions of dollars and tons of spray cannot wipe them out. This business of spraying the river is a very touchy problem because many think you have been poisoned by the spray. The result has been ruinous to many fisherman who depend on their livelihood on the fish and the crocodiles that they are able to catch. The main reason why these floating hyacinths are such a serious problem is that they often become untangled in the ship's propellers. Sometimes it takes an entire day to get this stuff removed from the propellers. You hear numerous stories about how this scourge of the river got started. One of the stories is that an American missionary brought the first plants here three years ago to beautify his lily pool. Since you hear so many different stories you wonder if this one is true. However when one of your fellow passengers tells you this story with an include accusing glance and a gleam in his eye you find yourself looking around for a hole to crawl into before you get the uncomfortable feeling that America is responsible for the whole miserable
mess. America is blamed for so many things and now we have something else to worry about. The highest since on the Congo River. This hazard to navigation up the Congo River is of importance to us for up this river is carried a great deal of cargo from the United States on the boat on which we are now passengers there are automobiles tractors bulldozers various types of machinery which have crossed the sea from America. And when the ship returns to Leopoldville from its journey into the heart of Africa it will be carrying cargo for our country consisting of palm oil gold bars and bags of gold dust copper and cobalt. The rivers of the Congo are the life line between Central Africa and the port of Metacity. It is not possible to transport the riches of the central Congo over the roads or in many parts of this country roads are either nonexistent or impassable for heavy transport and there are no roads between Port Frankie and label them.
The captain by the way is a very interesting person to talk to a lawyer he comes from Belgium. He served with the American Merchant Marine during the war. His ships were torpedoed by German submarines three different times. The third time he drifted around in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic for 21 days following the war Captain Canada took up the business of boxing. He tells me that at first he worked as a sparring partner for Buddy Bear. Later he fought with Tony go mental or rather he fought to only go into it to a draw and he won a bout with Tommy Farr who was then heavyweight champion of Britain. He won that fight on points in the 15th captain cannot promise to give me an interview on my tape recorder but it just didn't quite come off. Several times I thought I had him talked into it but each time he shied away. Evidently the 280 former heavyweight prize fighter was frightened by that little microphone. I took time out here for a
moment. One of the passengers just called my attention to several Hippel bathing along a sandbar near the shore. But to return to our story here is a recording I did yesterday with one of my fellow passengers. We made the recording in my cabin just above the engine room. The hum that you hear in the background is the sound of the engines. You want to go I had an interesting conversation about a passenger who has spent many months on the plantations of those as I'm planning to visit a farm when he got to his I decided the rather interesting to do a recording of our conversation as a kind of preview of some of the things we'd like to see when we leave the boat without regard to. How long have you lived in the condo I have faith in you're going to meet me here I can only fall in love when in doubt I believe you said you were going as far as
banning them. Yes we are right here. I've done it. You mentioned a moment ago that you had often watched native workers climb the power hungry group from which the power neuer was me. How high do these trees grow. 0 0 15 20 metres high. It depends on the age of fifty point twenty metres that that's over 60 feet high. Yeah I understand there are climbers here with three kind of a belt made of bronze I suppose you could go and leaves that are green. They're rather dangerous job isn't it. Yes indeed it is better. Demand the industry are very skilled. They don't have the issue and it better be a good option if he sent nine and I don't know if we go. Yes. Why three thousand eighty two. Too much how much. Yeah and he was talking about
six o'clock you know without anything much meaning. That you know. Because it's funny while people are going to die instead of me. If he has too much light yes at all. Evidently it's a good I did to leave the Y and I'm home. When you're in the business climate there is. You certainly need steady feet for that kind of a job. Those are oh yes a you have to let you live. It's very dangerous. What is the risk of bowing from the tree. The most dangerous part of the job of gathering the group know I would say that it is something else even more dangerous. What is that. Getting to know if I can was me. There are snakes in the group. Oh yes they're the automation. Yeah when a party's You know what kind of snake I don't know what you. I would call them dinners a gyno reach me which is for you.
I can think of a few more hair raising predicaments to be and then to be suspended 60 feet above ground leaning back against the belt made of rock and then suddenly to have a snake who got his head at you from a crest or a home you couldn't afford to have weak knees in a situation like that could you. All I can say is that I have only the greatest respect for the three climbers who have the courage to carry on in the face of that occupational hazard. Yes and it was like oh I will talk and visit in the night on the boat. Who told the story of a man who was bitten by a snake. He was walking in the grass at night without a dog. All as you are seeing MASH like when he was bitten by a snake. It must have been very fortunate because he became blind for two years. He regained his sight after two years. Yes he will fall right off you
know I had a similar experience several years of this weekend with her. I was running across the grass at night. Right way I can and you mention when suddenly something hit me hard. I kept my right leg right to go and at first I thought someone had thrown a rock and then I realized that it was a snake. Did you get the actions against me. Yes I got the snake's ear and a half hour. That wasn't very lame. That snake bite for several months. I remember one day the doctor who treated me remarked that he would receive that injection 20 minutes sooner. You would know that I know and then he added And if you get it 20 minutes later you wouldn't have that trouble either. Oh yeah. Did it I think you'll die. No fortunately I was not blind in my hand you mention but it was an experience I wouldn't want to go through. Yeah that's one
reason why I wouldn't want to make my living. Remy foundering No I wouldn't like to rebut you to talk to him. Many thanks for the drink you have given us to do one way or the other your story behind the gathering. Oh more now we are set up on another part of the ship away from the noise of the engines. We're approaching a little village of grass huts located on the waterfront. There are many of these tiny villages along the shores of the Congo. Usually as we draw near we can see the pierogies or canoes of the villages approaching the ship. These canoes contain bundles of men yok wrapped in leaves bananas and dried fish which the boatman try to sow to the African passengers aboard. Usually the hero gets paddled by a three or four men who stand upright in the canoe. The only possible explanation I have heard as to why the boatman don't sit as they paddle is that in a standing position they are less
apt to have their arms taken off by crocodiles. Frankly I don't really know if that is the correct explanation or not but it does sound plausible. This summing operation is a really risky business. Our ship does not slow down for the boatman and occasionally the boats are upset by the waves alongside the vessel. When the boatman reached the ship they tie their canoes to the rail and bargain for the sale of their ware. Here comes one now drawing near to the ship before both men are paddling with all our might but I doubt if they will be able to make it think that gap and I slow down to get it. Or if I was a candidate now and it looks like they are going to make it but just by the skin of their teeth. Let's go on down to the lower deck now and pick up the sound of their arguing with their prospective customer. There
now we're back on the upper deck where a group of those and children are doing a little song and dance. It's a little French song about a girl by the name of Marianne. The words go something like this. Marianne Marianne where are you going. I'm going to buy potatoes for whom are you buying but it is from one of my friends who is your friend. And then the girl replies with the name of one of the children in the group. In this case it is young Pierre or Annie or Christine. I think we have just time enough on this tape to get a recording of a snatch of their song. This has been programmed 12 of America's African heritage. These programs feature recordings made by world traveler skip Westfall on a recent trip to Africa. The series is made possible by a grant and aid to radio station w all Iowa State College probably Educational Television and Radio centered production is under the
direction of Norman beak Larry. This is Ray disease speaking for the National Association of educational broadcasters. You're. You're.
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America's African heritage
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Race and Ethnicity
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4915 (University of Maryland)
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