Book Jacket

 

rank 1269
word count 32678
date submitted 04.06.2012
date updated 11.04.2014
genres: Non-fiction, History, Travel, Harpe...
classification: moderate
incomplete

No Ice Cream in the Land of Cannibals

Ruko Dango

Hush! Possibly the most controversial book of the year…. A tragicomic journal of a UN peacekeeper in Africa.

 

This is an account of my experience as a UN peacekeeper in the Congo.
It is a record of the lives of rebel fighters, local villagers, and UN peacekeepers living in isolation. Sometimes darkly funny and moving, it is a story to fly you into the heart of Africa.

Slightly shell-shocked by my previous mission in Iraq, I arrive in a country devastated by war and still riven by violence. As a newbie to Africa, I begin my trip into the vast jungle country, and eventually I join a team of negotiators with the rebels, feared as ex-genociders. Soon, I find myself establishing a fragile friendship with a young rebel captain, setting off on an unauthorized mission to rescue a defecting officer, as well as uncovering a dark secret which eventually forces me to flee the area.

*Everything written here, I have seen myself or heard directly from the persons involved.
*All the names of the persons appearing in the book have been changed, for their privacy and safety.
*Cover image designed by Hoe Lim. (hoe.lim@gmail.com for commissioning a cover image.)
*Manuscript is completed at 118,000 words.

 
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tags

adventure, africa, diamond, guerrilla, jungle, military, peace, romance, war

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210 comments

 

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Jorre wrote 58 days ago

What a delightful read! I so relate to the asian thing, being a south african whitey and all, WE SO THINK LIKE THAT, relate to so much of what you write here. Going to leave you on my shelf for the longest time, although if the book was for sale i would buy it, so vexing waiting for the chapters to load. My baddies are from the Congo, DRC, and the investigation goes into the Congo, the mabuto Palace, and the plane ride, is exactly how it is. Wish you so much luck with this. Going to read on. You are an effortless writer.
THE BLAME GAME

bigmouth wrote 217 days ago

I thought this had a great opening chapter and it definitely hooked me in. Halfway through the second chapter I felt things drag a bit and wondered if a series of very short, or shortish, chapters would be better. I publish the Confessions series of memoirs (Confessions of a GP, Male Nurse, New York Taxi Driver etc) which tend to have quite short, episodic chapters and I could see this, with a bit of an edit and polish, being a potential Confessions of a UN Peacekeeper. I will ask Rachel to call it in so that the team can read it offline.

Scott

KathrynW wrote 237 days ago

By the end of chapter two, I understood your brilliant title. This is a great read - all the more so because it is true. You effortlessly weave together the people, the places and the politics. You have a succinct style of writing, with punchy sentences which keep the narrative rolling along at a quick pace. Your descriptions of the people you met and their interactions paints a lively and chaotic picture of life in Africa. I particularly liked your dialogue which was unstilted and to the point - no needless conversations slowing down the pace of your story.

I very much admire the work you did in Africa and the risks that you undertook on behalf of the people there.

You've been on my watch list for a couple of days, and will remain there. High stars.

Kathryn
Waters of Grace

Jane Mauret wrote 253 days ago

Hello, Ruko
(chapters 1-9)
A very seductive beginning, especially when we know it is a true story – the diamond intrigue followed immediately by the plane in distress.
Still manage to inject humour, eg: Tea shot up my nostril. Plus the allusion to a ride in an amusement park. This makes the telling all the more horrific because of the juxtaposition.
Later we hear that things get done depending on whom someone sleeps with which is also a bit unexpected; it makes the circumstances even more human.
Love the reference to the stomach of a skeleton whale; I went on an air force plane was and your description is perfect.
We learn a lot in the book, eg, hearing about the Tutsi and Hutu – and an interest contrast between westerners getting nose jobs for vanity but here, ‘if your nose was the wrong shape, in the wrong place, it could kill you.’
You relay almost casually how dangerous it was for you, eg, possibility of being attacked by bandits (Ch 4) which adds to the atmosphere.
But dangers can be minute too, with regard to the burrowing insects that can make their own attack on the body.
All the characters are colourful and you portray them effortlessly via their dialogue and some well-chosen words, phrases.
I can tell you have reworked this since I first read it some time ago and it really shows as it all seems to flow well; no wasted sentences or paragraphs either.
I can’t find anything to crit and am looking forward to seeing what ED has to say. I think above all the subject matter if unique and well handled.
Best wishes.
Jane Mauret
HOW TO BE INAPPRROPRIATE

Billie Storm wrote 257 days ago

This is wonderful from the very beginning, almost journalistically faultless, if that's not an oxymoron. The openness of your style is like a hug, ingenuous and curious to know and learn. You seem to possess, or should I say preserve, an amazement that is not naive or recklessly optimistic. Always recovering the humanity and humour; The flight there and Dalia's tunnel, for instance, so funny for it's sheer candour. I love this. Not normally my kind of read, but you've caught a fan here. It is so fresh, and interesting! Glorious descriptions seamlessly rolling out from one chapter to the next. Goodness, I don't think I've got a negative.

starred and will back as soon as I can.

Rebecca

Jorre wrote 58 days ago

What a delightful read! I so relate to the asian thing, being a south african whitey and all, WE SO THINK LIKE THAT, relate to so much of what you write here. Going to leave you on my shelf for the longest time, although if the book was for sale i would buy it, so vexing waiting for the chapters to load. My baddies are from the Congo, DRC, and the investigation goes into the Congo, the mabuto Palace, and the plane ride, is exactly how it is. Wish you so much luck with this. Going to read on. You are an effortless writer.
THE BLAME GAME

Keiran Proffer wrote 79 days ago

No Ice Cream in the Land of Cannibals by Ruko Dango

Hi Ruko,
I've read 8 chapters of your book. Overall comments:
1. I make comments as I read. Some may be answered later.
2. Remarkably well written. I noticed very few typos and grammatical mistakes, only a few minor style faults.
3. You have the skeleton of a story, but if you are going to write about foreign places you must flesh it out with descriptions for people like me who have never been to the Congo. What was the building she worked in like? Did all the lights etc function as in Europe/USA? What was the town and people like? What was her first night in the new county like? What hit her about the place? (My first experience of Africa, was of course the heat, but then seeing a troop on moneys run across the road.) What was the weather like? (It must have been very humid, coming from Iraq to Congo.) You do give a bit of this in Kinshasa, but none in Goma. Also – people fight shy of this but in can be very evocative – what did the place smell like?
Have a look at “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell for a good example.
4. In chap 8 you say they went to work in the morning. What work? We do not know what she is doing each day, and I would like to know.
See below for detailed comments.

Keiran

Blurb
1. This was ok, though I personally would change “persons” to “people” thought I can’t say why.

Chap 1.
1. “diamond” should be “diamonds” in English. But maybe you were transliterating.
2. The talk sounds just a little flippant for a UN delegate.

Chap 2
1. “,closing my eyes” > “and closing my eyes”
2. “make me feel I was getting a bargain” This didn’t ring true. Why should she want a bargain. Suggest making it: “make me feel any better”
3. “someone shouted in the crowd” > “shouted someone in the crowd” or “someone in the crowd shouted”

Chap 3
1. How did she get from the airport to the hotel?
2. “personal assistant who” > “personal assistant, who”
3. “nine month – only” This clashed. You are speaking about the world which had forgotten. The next sentence you switch to your reaction. I would take out the “only”, and put a colon instead of a full stop (period) before “it had been”.
4. No comma after “quickly”
5. Saw a slight clash between you half listening then listening but getting lost.

Chap 4
1. Not clear about the signatures: are they from UN officials as it is “wasteful UN practice” or from local government who have to be buttered up?
2. How did she know her way round Kinshasa? Did someone go with her?
3. Line gap between “I don’t” and “remember”

Chap 5
1. “ship, to return home” > “ship to return home”. (I think)
2. Where are these people going to? For 2 week’s journey?

Chap 6
1. The 2nd “a stream of lava” should be “the stream of lava”
2. No comma after “so tall”
3. “stay for a while” twice. Don’t repeat whole phrases in same para; and try to avoid repeating same word in sentences, unless for effect.

Chap 7.
1. I think you mean “expanded the gene pool” rather than “refined” it.
2. There “must” have been a certain amount of truth in White Men splitting the tribes?!! Based on one old photo? Better say “there may”. Most probably they were trying to decide which tribe the natives belonged to. As far as I know, Africans split themselves into tribes, and later white men came and created nations which cut right across tribal boundaries. Some more research is needed here.
3. “They’d walk pass by” > “They’d walk by” or “They’d pass by”
4. What does MONUC stand for? Who are they?
5. “And it was not a case, but juicy gossip over a drink.” “And it was not a case, but a subject for juicy gossip over a drink.” (First grammatical mistake I have noticed.)

Chap 8
1. Change 2nd sentence to: “It was a country club hotel, on the shores of lake K, with semidetached…” And why is this sentence in the past tense? Does the hotel no longer exist?
2. “although volcanic gas” I had to read this twice. Volcanic gas and crocodiles do not contradict each other. What you are saying, I think, is that the lake had its dangers. Explain this.
3. “…kids. Just like…” > “…kids, just like…”
4. “dressed, we never knew why, she” > “dressed - we never knew why - she”

bigmouth wrote 217 days ago

I thought this had a great opening chapter and it definitely hooked me in. Halfway through the second chapter I felt things drag a bit and wondered if a series of very short, or shortish, chapters would be better. I publish the Confessions series of memoirs (Confessions of a GP, Male Nurse, New York Taxi Driver etc) which tend to have quite short, episodic chapters and I could see this, with a bit of an edit and polish, being a potential Confessions of a UN Peacekeeper. I will ask Rachel to call it in so that the team can read it offline.

Scott

KathrynW wrote 237 days ago

By the end of chapter two, I understood your brilliant title. This is a great read - all the more so because it is true. You effortlessly weave together the people, the places and the politics. You have a succinct style of writing, with punchy sentences which keep the narrative rolling along at a quick pace. Your descriptions of the people you met and their interactions paints a lively and chaotic picture of life in Africa. I particularly liked your dialogue which was unstilted and to the point - no needless conversations slowing down the pace of your story.

I very much admire the work you did in Africa and the risks that you undertook on behalf of the people there.

You've been on my watch list for a couple of days, and will remain there. High stars.

Kathryn
Waters of Grace

Software wrote 247 days ago

Very much out of the ordinary story, containing elements of mystery coupled with a romance between fellow travellers. What makes NICitLotC even more remarkable is that it appears to be based on real life experiences. It has the feel of Hotel Rwanda about it,even a thin sliver of Heart of Darkness. Real life tales are invariably more engaging than fiction. This is no exception to that rule. Would like to read more when complete. High stars and WL'ed. Bookshelf contender when complete.

Clive Radford
Doghouse Blues


.

Jane Mauret wrote 253 days ago

Hello, Ruko
(chapters 1-9)
A very seductive beginning, especially when we know it is a true story – the diamond intrigue followed immediately by the plane in distress.
Still manage to inject humour, eg: Tea shot up my nostril. Plus the allusion to a ride in an amusement park. This makes the telling all the more horrific because of the juxtaposition.
Later we hear that things get done depending on whom someone sleeps with which is also a bit unexpected; it makes the circumstances even more human.
Love the reference to the stomach of a skeleton whale; I went on an air force plane was and your description is perfect.
We learn a lot in the book, eg, hearing about the Tutsi and Hutu – and an interest contrast between westerners getting nose jobs for vanity but here, ‘if your nose was the wrong shape, in the wrong place, it could kill you.’
You relay almost casually how dangerous it was for you, eg, possibility of being attacked by bandits (Ch 4) which adds to the atmosphere.
But dangers can be minute too, with regard to the burrowing insects that can make their own attack on the body.
All the characters are colourful and you portray them effortlessly via their dialogue and some well-chosen words, phrases.
I can tell you have reworked this since I first read it some time ago and it really shows as it all seems to flow well; no wasted sentences or paragraphs either.
I can’t find anything to crit and am looking forward to seeing what ED has to say. I think above all the subject matter if unique and well handled.
Best wishes.
Jane Mauret
HOW TO BE INAPPRROPRIATE

Lara wrote 257 days ago

A very exciting read because it is so different and so fresh. I won't waste words, this isn't a review. I'm backing.
Rosalind Minett
A RELATIVE INVASION
SPEECHLESS

Billie Storm wrote 257 days ago

This is wonderful from the very beginning, almost journalistically faultless, if that's not an oxymoron. The openness of your style is like a hug, ingenuous and curious to know and learn. You seem to possess, or should I say preserve, an amazement that is not naive or recklessly optimistic. Always recovering the humanity and humour; The flight there and Dalia's tunnel, for instance, so funny for it's sheer candour. I love this. Not normally my kind of read, but you've caught a fan here. It is so fresh, and interesting! Glorious descriptions seamlessly rolling out from one chapter to the next. Goodness, I don't think I've got a negative.

starred and will back as soon as I can.

Rebecca

J.Adams wrote 265 days ago

I've read some of this before, and find i am enjoying it again every bit as much as the first time 'round. I can't remember if I've either commented, If I didn't I surely should have!

There are some inaccuracies with the language, but rather than distracting they serve to create a more engaging, endearing quality to this story. I literally could not stop reading last night, even after falling asleep and waking several times, I just couldn't make myself put my laptop away and face the fact that I had to go to sleep.

The overwhelming feeling I had when I read this before and continue to have now about this story and this author is --- What a life you are leading, "Ruko," what an amazing life. Thank you so much for sharing the ups and downs, laughter and tears. This is a book I very much want to have a physical copy of. Please do let me know when it is published.

Wishing you all the very best,
Judy

Tom Ericson wrote 275 days ago

Ruko,
When I read the 'pitch' for this book I thought it would be a biographical work that miight read like a text book. How wrong I was! It reads like a novel and weaves an excellent path between local knowledge, political technicalities and an easy writing style that pitches well through a story-telling narrative. This is a very good read.
There are some proofreading errors (I am a proofreader ... sorry!) - Second page, third para from end - "No, what (do) I do with ..."
Chapter 1, para 23. May be should read maybe (one word).
Chapter 1 para 24. (T)he UN mission should read (t)he UN mission.
Chapter 1 further down - "I had no idea that she ... but (was referring to/thinking about??) about a gun in my racket cover. This doesn't read correctly.
Chapter 9. I was beginning to feel like an interviewer ... Yuri clumsily, and hurriedly(,) started talking.
Chapter 9. ...spy films in (the) (')80s ...
Enough of the negatives. So far, I am up to Chapter 9, I am throughly enjoying this book and I particularly appreciate the subtle humour, particularly the references to vegetarians and 'meat eaters'. Another highlight for me was the scene where the plane landed and then took off again for Kinshasa - it got me into Ruko'd head wonderfully.
I will certainly be reading more and I have starred highly. I should be able to get it on my bookshelf before the end of the month.
Best wishes,
Tom

Tom Ericson
The Anger Within

Jill Stoking wrote 285 days ago

I knew I would love this book from discovering your true identity in chapter 1. It is living up to expectations. I've read the first eight chapters and dipped in randomly through the rest. This is a book deserving of top stars and backing and as, after this one, I have no room to shuffle books for a while, I can go back and read from chapter 8 at my leisure.

I know nothing about Africa, except a holiday in Tunisia, which doesn't really count, but this book gives such insight, not just into the beauty and majesty that is Africa but the contrast between the lushness of the Congo with its variety of homegrown food coming out of Goma , then at Rutshuru, deprivation and decimation even of the wild animals. You so explicitly depict man's inhumanity to man and man's cavalier attitude to his own habitat, its heartbreaking, all the more so because this is fact not fiction.

I loved the little cameos you seamlessly slip into the narrative, for example,the insects with the foot fetish and the eruption of Mount Neiragongo, they emphasised that this is a land that will never be tamed, no matter what man does to it.

Although not a political book, it was very much your experiences but there was evidence in your writing of corrupt people, even within the organisations who were meant to be assisting these war weary and battered populations.

For me an invaluable insight into a Land I knew nothing about. Thank you Ruko.

T.J. Evan wrote 312 days ago

Its getting late, so I only planned on reading chapter one. But now I HAVE to know who Monique is!! Well played, and written. I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far.

Reid-Sumter wrote 316 days ago

God...

You know this is really impacting?

I really do have a passion for Travling and I think that's something that we both have so much in common. I've read over your book and I can honestly read over the whole book again. I absolutely love it. Your historic aspect of time is absolutely profound. I found myself enchanted and lost with your scripts of very descriptive writing. You are highly skilled, sir and I hope to one day see this beauty published. I want nothing more than to see your work come more to life. I will do everything I can to strive and get your work more noticed. It is so beautiful. I find myself still struggling not to have another read at your work. I've been looking over it since yesterday and I'm still lost of how to even comment over the pages. Its gorgeous, Its honest, Its well thought out, and have pulled to the real definition of a tale.




High stars & Well deserved support!



karelkoninkrijk wrote 318 days ago

Hi Ruko, steady at 27. Still working on the rest of your book?

Jennie6092 wrote 320 days ago

This is great - and it's not even the type of thing I usually read. Honestly, I only read it because on your page it said you return reads and I just uploaded today. But, will wonders never cease - I actually enjoyed it. I always imagine government anything to be boring, dull, and confusing, so something like this kind of turns me off. But, I love that you (since this is based on your experiences) are so human. I like the honesty and clarity. I tried to find something to pick at and I haven't finished it, so that's still possible but for the moment I just have one question:

Who / what is "Monique"? A french word? A name?

This was at the very end of chapter one and I think there was a reference made to it in the 2nd chapter that was intended to clarify but I didn't get it.

Oh, and one suggestion that is really pretty irrelevant but I wonder if you might be able to describe the setting in a little bit more detail in the opening of the story. We don't really know much about these people's surroundings (the soldiers / rebels).

Highly starred!

Yasmina wrote 320 days ago

No Ice Cream in the Land of the Cannibals
Ruko Dango

This is an amazing account, made more amazing by not being fiction. Thank you for giving us an insight into the role of a UN peacekeeper. You have written the account very well.

Highly starred and happily backed!

Yasmina Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey

Mellish wrote 321 days ago

Another great chapter - but I would give a little more detail on what was happening that the media were interested in - so that the story gets more immediacy. Then maybe contrast that with a snippet about a 'forgotten' tragedy.

edits...

'get a hand on' -> get on top of the situation.' (usually 'get a handle on' but doesn't quite work in that phrase.)
'god damn' -> 'god-damned' or 'goddam' (U.S.)
'remote controlling' -> 'remote-controlling'
'The last he had seen me' -> 'The last time he had seen me' or 'The last he had seen of me'.
'said flutteringly' -> breathlessly? otherwise delete! In this exchange you can take out some of the 'I said' descriptors as it's obvious who is who.
'a bullshit' -> 'bullshit'. Usual usage is without the 'a', just: 'that's bullshit', or 'what bullshit', or 'total bullshit'. (Can be singular or plural!)
'made a definite crack between' -> 'drove a wedge between'. 'Crack' is not a usual idiom. You can use 'crack', but not as if it were a idiom - so possibly, 'put a serious crack in what was once a solid relationship.'

Mellish wrote 321 days ago

Strong chapter - easy to read - good local colour.

Edit: 'was running around busily' -> ugly adverb! 'was running around questioning people.'

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 13
Another great chapter.

edits...

'was on another' -> 'was sent on another'
'with absolute dignity' -> 'with an absolute dignity'
'got up, to' -> 'got up to'
'even there though. My' -> 'even there though; my'
'The photos of the slaughtered bodies' -> 'The photos were of the slaughtered bodies'
'hanging out, from' -> 'hanging out from'
'crack of an' -> 'crack in an'
'And every time [I saw such photos]'
'middle of the filed' -> 'middle of the field'
'guilt conscious of making' -> 'guilt I felt making'
'with ulcer' -> 'with an ulcer'
'heavier, just' -> heavier just'
'about it, over' -> 'about it over'

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

ssurrounded -> surrounded ;-)

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 12

Nice chapter. Great use of the possibilities of diamonds being underfoot, the pink genocidaires, and then image of the corpses.

edits

'right by Goma [on shores of Lake Kivu].
Genocidaires in Italics.
'murdering around Tutsis and the Hutus' -> 'murdering Tutsis and any Hutus'
'RPF, Rwandan Patriotic Front' -> 'Rwandan Patriotic Front, or RPF,'
'Hutu dominated' -> 'Hutu-dominated'
'walked passed' -> 'walked past'
'the water was fresh but I got used to it' - not sure what you mean... as in freshwater, or cold? Do you really need to get used to freshwater? Same as a swimming pool? Howabout, 'the freshwater was cloudy and quite cold, at least compared to the ambient temperature, but I got used to it.'
'other Keyan' -> 'other Kenyan'
'you see, how I am' -> 'you see, I am'
'my subconscious action'... my change of expression? read my thoughts as though they were written across my forehead?, guessed my reaction?
'she told me popping out her big eyes. Like this' -> 'she told me, her large eyes popping like this'
'under the sunray' -> 'in the sunlight'
'peanuts shells' -> 'peanut shells'
'passed relaxing' -> 'passed away a'
'hundred of corpse filled that' -> 'hundreds of corpses were left to rot on that'

Meg Wearing wrote 323 days ago

What an intriguing story. I can't imagine living through such an ordeal. Very well written, and the dialogue is especially believable. I'm sure this will go far.

Meg Wearing
Charlie Parker's Corner Of The Prairie

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 11

Very strong chapter. Enjoyed it. Parrot a great piece of detail that sticks in the memory.

edit...
'vague uneasiness away, and' -> 'vague uneasiness, away and'

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 10
They sent you to a massacre!! Blimey.

Very strong chapter - enjoyed it. Excellent the way you made Kirumba seem so sleepy with little touches, setting the background for contrasting the dissolute Army commander against the well-meaning police chief. The town where the rapes occurred was also a great scene.

edits...

'Once Lived the Dictator's Mistress' -> 'Where the Dictator's Mistress Once Lived.'
'the MONUC troop' -> 'the MONUC troops'.
'the situation there' -> the situation in this village.' ('There could also refer to Kayna.)
'Belgians controlled' -> 'Belgians once controlled [and, infamously in the early twentieth century worked millions of Congolese to their deaths.]'
'still cracking up' -> 'devastated'
'Mobutu' -> 'Mobutu[, a former dictated installed by the Americans]'
'tse" noise with his tongue [a sound used across all of sub-saharan Africa to express disgust or disappointment.]'


Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 9

Very nice writing. Perhaps more description of the scenery on the road, which I remembered varied from spectacular views, to poverty stricken villages - its probably even worse now. I liked the irony of the 'real world'.

edits...

'coo-coo' -> 'cuckoo.' Crazy. Comes from a cuckoo clock.
'UN staffs' -> 'UN staff'.

Mellish wrote 323 days ago

Chap 8

Another great read. I think by now you should be putting a few comments which fill the reader in about the background reasons for the conflict: the assassination that kicked off the Rwandan War - or at least a new version of a war that has been periodically reigniting for a century. The illegal diamond trade routes - one into Uganda, another into Zimbabwe, and another into one of the Congolese warlords, plus the various foreign company interests pulling the strings behind the scenes. Then the tribal conflict that infects not just Rwanda, but all of Congo, and especially the resource rich areas in the south east, and the legacy of the last civil war, or even the legacy of the US assassination of the first elected Congolese president... or is that still to come?

edits...

'a precious game' - 'game' in Africa tends to mean 'animal hunting'. If that's what you meant, then you were 'precious game', rather than 'a precious game', or alternatively, you could be 'a precious game animal'. Or if you were a 'game', perhaps 'a pleasant diversion'?
'and declare.' -> 'and declare:'
'why did you wanted' -> 'why did you want'.
'feeling sober about being with him' -> 'sober' isn't the right word - maybe 'less enthusiastic', or 'the conversation becoming too serious for a date.' or 'made me reassess his personality' etc
'had Malaria' -> 'had malaria'
'Hel no' -> 'Hell no'.
'I cracked up' -> this usually means, 'I started laughing out loud'. Is that what you mean - it's not clear either way.
'I still hang around' -> 'I hung around'.
'Not as mad like here' -> 'not as mad as here.'

Mellish wrote 324 days ago

Chap7:

why I'd had to -> probably technically correct, but your dialogue is quite conversational and normal speech would naturally say 'why I had to'. Easier to read too.

Great description of Butembo. I passed through it a long time ago, and it was just a small town. I seem to recall getting a lift on an unroadworthy truck that used me - a muzungu - as a free pass through the road blocks. I stood in the back with the other passengers. The local military were pricks.

Mellish wrote 324 days ago

Chap 6

Great reading. Even more local colour - esp the pygmy camp would be justified.

More suggested edits. Ignore if you don't want them!

he was; that Mr Bon -> he was, that Mr Bon
'square Muslim hat' ? -> flat-topped Muslim Hat ??
'Good-Night' -> 'Good night.'
But may be, to tall' -> 'But maybe, to tall'
'getting on my nerve' - something of cliche, usually 'getting on my nerves'. More often applied to an irritating person: 'annoying me' might be better...
'But we scored that day' -> usually means bought some grass or other drugs, and I do know people who bought some very potent grass from the pygmies when they visited. So maybe 'We had our first success'
'Tsunami hit Phuket' -> 'Tsunami-hit Phuket'

Mellish wrote 324 days ago

Hi again,

Chap 5: The list of militias is confusing - which one is the Mai mai is not perfectly clear - so perhaps you can put 'or' between them to separate each from the other.

You gave a some good description of Kinshasa and Goma, maybe a sentence or two of description for each of the towns you stop at. So that they stick in the mind.

WIll

Mellish wrote 324 days ago

More suggestions...

wing like -> wing-like
'And their lips - pout' -> And the pout of their lips would make any... [?]
'hole on my toe' -> 'hole in my toe.'

Great fun story

More anon,

Will

Mellish wrote 324 days ago

Really nice so far - in Chap 2. Amazingly tough assignment - the north east? Blimey. Do you want corrections?? (If not, ignore the following...)

The sentence "she had innocently prophesied" doesn't read right - plus the spelling of prophesized, but Word will fix that I'm sure.

Sentence 'I sat and waited...' should move to end of para (?)

'noisily walked' -> 'walked noisily'

'for she had not learned my name' -> this comes across ambiguously. I think what you might mean here is: 'she couldn't remember my name no matter how often I repeated it.'

'every other administration office' should be 'each Department's administration office'. Clearer, I think.

'stinky traditionalist'?? 'such traditional values no longer seemed to apply.'

Dutch people stuffed with hormone rich beef: not really. They're just big. In ancient times Caeser told his army not to worry about the size of the Germans - but instead think of them as a larger target for their swords. Here, it comes across as much an incorrect racial stereotype as some of the one's you point out in others. All you have to say is that the Dutch are giants, or weirdly tall, compared to other nations. No-one can fault that ;-) Or, if you were having a joke, make it clearer that it would only have been to tease him. 'I felt like winding him up by saying Dutch people...'

Boards a ship - upriver East? You probably should say, as people won't know that it's not going out to sea, unless they know the geography well.

I heard of instances of cannibalism there too, back in the 80s.

More anon,

WIll

Sarah-Jane wrote 330 days ago

Hi R,

I read the first four chapters yesterday and found it enthralling. The narrative, descriptions and dialogue bring the characters and environment to life, making mental imagery easy.
I liked the comparison of the inside of the helicopter with the skeleton whale - excellent.
The method of writing portrays your recollections clearly and encapsulates qualities that would appeal to readers of a variety of genre's.
There were no major factors to detract from my enjoyment of a story that flowed effortlessly making me want to read on.
I think a variety of readers would be attracted to and intrigued by this book thus aiding its success.

Sarah Jane
Glass Half Full

A.E.Kirton wrote 330 days ago

This is a very well written piece, which stays true to it's intention of informing the reader with almost no embellishment. I'm enjoying it very much and look forward to finishing it. (On chapter 3 at the moment.)

rachel_mary wrote 332 days ago

Read the first two chapters and I really like this. Although it isn't the sort of book I would usually go for (I'm guilty of being unfairly dismissive of memoirs and non-fiction) I'm thoroughly enjoying your writing, which strikes me as some of the most professional I've seen on the site. Colourful, fun and human despite being factual about a situation far outside of most readers' own experiences. I'll keep this on my watch list with the intention of giving it some shelf time in the near future.

Special mention to the line "Being a good flirt is a prerequisite for an efficient peacekeeper", this really jumped out at me as being well observed.

Rachel
The Diver's Brilliant Bow

ShirleyGrace wrote 350 days ago

Ruko:
I read this sometime ago and enjoyed it then as now. The beginning and the flight got my attention. Who hasn't had one of those nightmare flights. I love reading about them.
"Which way is up"
"I did not feel like I was getting a bargain"...love the humor.
You take the reader to another place and do a good job with that.
Parasite in the toe and then in the breast. YUK
I only read the first few chapters. I saw no typos of any consequence and I enjoyed the read. Keeping on W/l I see your work is doing well and climbing.
ShirleyGrace

iandsmith wrote 353 days ago

"I changed planes twice and each time the aircraft got smaller" Great, human observations make for a great bigger picture. Up to chapter 3 and enjoying this.

karelkoninkrijk wrote 360 days ago

chapter 23 is very touching. Generaly speaking the whole situation in Congo is very confusing and difficult to describe. Chapters like this are moving and keeps the reader interested. Although I know the situation and environment, I sometime hooked off because its all so complicated. Sometime you don't see the forest anymore because of all the trees, as we say in Holland. However you describe it well and the powerlessness of UN forces/humanitrian aidworkers like you to do something about it. Difficult to be effective. It sometimes gives the impression that they just drive or fly around, but (can)do little about improving the situation or stop it from getting worse. Quite an difficult if not impossible task. And than there is the ineffectiveness of large organisation like UN. Here is a simple phone call that does wonders. You describe these matters well. For me it is easier to get the picture since I know the area and human conditions, but will others understand? Maybe you could be more clear about/ give historical background information on the whole political situation for those who don't know. Still, I'm enjoying reading it and will continue.

karelkoninkrijk wrote 363 days ago

it is all so familiar to me although Butembo was a small place when I was there in 1969. I enjoy reading your story

karelkoninkrijk wrote 364 days ago

Hi Ruko,
I've just read the prologue and chaptern 1 and I like it. It reminds me of my own arrival at the Ndjili airport in 1996. Your writing is excellent and what you say about us Dutch is true: pumped up with hormone stuffed beef...rather porc and chicken. I try to avoid them. I like the way you describe things: people moving like a puppet show etc. good on you! Hope you will enyoy my story about Congo(sent to you by email)
cherio, Karel

Grafton wrote 380 days ago

Claw Review; No Ice Cream in the Land of the Cannibals ch1-3

The short pitch is good, sets the hook. The long pitch is well written, always like a true to life read. Engaging plot and storyline, definite page turner. There is good conflict and drama in the story, also with the dialogue. It is well edited, I found no punctuation or grammar issues through ch1-3. If I was forced to critique it would be this- add more description to the settings and characters. Overall this is a very interesting book. Good Luck- high stars. Mark Stone.

AlexandraMahanaim wrote 385 days ago

Wow, what an amazing insight into a life of a peacekeeper! Monique, Mudacumura--sounds like a great plot. I was not surprised when the money, allocated for returning people home was half used up and the ship chosen to bring people home was so old, would easily drown. I was not surprised at the old aircrafts Ruko had to travel. But I was surprised that the place where she was going had cannibals and no ice cream--what a scary hole to end up in.

I read three chapters. You write in a witty and almost comical fashion, making it an interesting read.

Amazing: “Being a good flirt is a prerequisite for an efficient peacekeeper.”

Thank you so much for sharing your story--I am glad I came across it,
Alexandra Mahanaim

Bea Sinclair wrote 385 days ago

This is entertaining, funny and a little bit scary. I love it. Yours Bea

Tracie Podger wrote 393 days ago

Ruko, what a great book. I've only read the first two chapters but already felt compelled to comment. I love the description of the plane journey and your comparison between the white people and lions, the Asians and cow is brilliant. So well written and thought out. I shall continue reading.

Truth One Note In wrote 399 days ago

CLAWED review.
There is a good smooth development of your plot. I didn't feel rushed through it or confused by choppy sentences or paragraphs. Good work, that can be hard to accomplish.
The plot is unique and the vision is easy to see. The ice cream twist is very creative.
I thought that your dialog is smooth and real. You have this as fiction and non-fiction and I can see why that is.
I have to say that this is not my sort of book. That being said, I think that there is a good deal of touches that make the reader think.
I saw a missing period, but I can't find it now. Oh, well.
Toni [Cavern of Time]

R. Dango wrote 399 days ago

Thank you for bringing these things up. In fact, these three takes on Capt.Baptiste are the only fictional part of this book. I have mixed them as an experiment. However, if readers feel odd about their 'thoughts' written by me, I have to reconsider the approach. Thank you again for your comments.

Hi Ruko,

I found your travel journal style of writing very engaging and interesting. A personal view can lighten up the scenery and give it some extra dimension which illuminates the problems as well as the opportunities.
May I, please, point out a couple of things which I noticed :
(ch3) And old man like him ??
he took his hand out of (his) pocket
There are a couple of incidents where the journal steps out of its confines and takes on an empirical viewpoint. I found this slightly disconcerting although most readers might not notice - Captaine Baptiste's thoughts would be inaccessible to Ruko. This happens again in ch6, where the Chief of villages' thoughts are reported.
And, excuse me if I'm dull . . . What is Primus?
Not a lot of typos at all, as this MS is polished and well constructed.

Ame

zap wrote 400 days ago

Hi Ruko,

I found your travel journal style of writing very engaging and interesting. A personal view can lighten up the scenery and give it some extra dimension which illuminates the problems as well as the opportunities.
May I, please, point out a couple of things which I noticed :
(ch3) And old man like him ??
he took his hand out of (his) pocket
There are a couple of incidents where the journal steps out of its confines and takes on an empirical viewpoint. I found this slightly disconcerting although most readers might not notice - Captaine Baptiste's thoughts would be inaccessible to Ruko. This happens again in ch6, where the Chief of villages' thoughts are reported.
And, excuse me if I'm dull . . . What is Primus?
Not a lot of typos at all, as this MS is polished and well constructed.

Ame

GJC wrote 401 days ago

Hi Ruko,
I'm here just to read, not a writer myself. I live in SA, and one of our extended family members works for the UN with refugees, so your pitch caught my eye. She's based in Switzerland for now, but has been all over the world too. Curious to find out if any of your experiences match hers - and seems like the nuttiness that she describes at the UN is not limited to just one area! I like the very personal feel to this (I suppose because I live in the general region, I don't need more fill-in on the background on Africa.). I would like to hear more about the Iraq background though because that is something I'm not familiar with - CNN or Sky don't really count. I've only read a chapter so far, but found this enjoyable, and interesting. Happy to shelve for more reading - I'm not on here often.

zap wrote 403 days ago

Hi Ruko,

I read 1-6. Your lively writing style makes it a real pleasure to follow you as a reader on your various Congo excursions. I'll comment properly later. Best wishes on your way to the desk.
Backed.

Ame

Steve Hawgood wrote 404 days ago

Ruko - the promised return read. I've no literary training nor ever published so feel free to deal with these comments as you wish. I will say that the real life genre this offers itself as is one I would often pick up.

I read the opening Chapter a few times. It's one that's intriguing but for two reasons I think can be pushed further. The first is this is almost totally limited to dialogue - as I read I found I wanted to know more on the politics of this war; there have been so many - Rwanda overspill or DRC internal or something else? I did Google to check but that took me away from your book.

The other issue was you tempted me with your title. What is the highest penalty - is this cannibalism or must I wait longer? But within that opening you've also promised me the Wikileaks version of UN actvivity - that's intriguing as I've heard some stories that have never made the press.

Your Chapter 1 - nice easy starting style, personal and a little action to set the scene. I'm expecting UN dysfuntion and it's there already and some amusing as well as dangerous moments - the immigration entry and confusion with your nationality is short but spot on.

This is almost a rush of information, almost, but I'm just staying with it. I want to know more about you personally, why you joined the UN and now what happened in Iraq. I would suggest being a good flirt is a prerequisite for a 'female' peacekeeper, but bow to your experience. I'm also wondering what the UN's poistion is - what I would call a situation statement.

The story is flowing well but where I did find myself wanting just a little more was the background to Afirca. Almost all of this Chapter is about the UN related characters. I loved the paragraph opening on Kinshasa and the vibrant colours of the clothes. Maybe just pushing a little of Leick back and allowing us to settle into Kinshasa more gently and become familiar with it would help the reader - just a thought.

By now I'm forgetting typos and grammar - none of those - style and story are what I'm looking at and you have much of that.

Nice, very personal closing line, that behind it's simplicity offers so much.

Brief mention of Walikale - interesting, again moments of great humour with key chains, and slight info dumps with the history of Rwanda and FDLR - I love geopolitics but wonder how readers manage who have no knowledge may stay with this.

Brief scenes follow, each good and you cover yourself and your fears with prayer to several gods. Then Fiorennza and Bon, with Goma and Butembo as potential places to go, somehow related to the North Kivu Region.

Your Chapter 3 - the Goma Girls

Now this is excellent! You paint parrallel pictures of the history for the unknown reader with the modern women and their genetic heritage. The humour continues and you also start to portray a little of the dark side of life with rich expatriaties having acess to young girls. I sense there is more of the dark side of life here but you dont show that as I was expecting - am certain prostitution was rife in some areas.

What is MONUC? Have I missed that?

The bug - also excellent - clearly memories that have stayed with you.

Your Chapter 5 - Safari territory

Again clearly written and I suspect you have an excellent memory for conversations. There is more of Africa here and I want that a lot. Also a little more of the history that causes these confused conflicts.

Ruko I've read 10 Chapters and loved all the scenes. You write extremely well and the style comes across as very personal, but I feel there is still so much more missing. Just my thoughts but here they are:-

Most memoirs, military or similar include detail about a persons upbring and I want to know a lot more about you, Ruko San. This isn't a travel book, it's about you in the United Nations; where did you grow up, what was your family composition, what made you join the UN and take an approach to life so different from the average Japanese woman - why are you haunted by your mission in Iraq? - you hint at much several times with prayers, views on relationships but this is your story and I feel you've hidden much of yourself from me. I read your bio and how you compared allowing others to read your writing to the first time at a nudist beach - I can associate with the fear of letting others read your writing, but I would suggest there is more of you, and/or the UN to show.

Many military memiors include some very personal admission of being brought up in broken families, perhas youth crime and alchoholism as a response to stress. They talk of lost friends and stress - in short they bare their soul to the reader.

The individual scenes are frankly excellent. Very human and your humour is perhaps the best part but as I read I felt I was being given snapshots when I wanted the whole story - I hope this comes across - they are my views and others will see this differently so finding the balance for publication is where the difficulty lies.

The deployment of the UN into any situation requires some form of votes and then a mission. From my background I was trying to see how orders and actions were following a 'mission statement' but I found myself reading almost a travellog. At one point you indicate they need water and stated that knowing you could sumbit a report about water pipes completed your mission. I do feel you could maybe every 3 or so Chapters update us on the background of what the UN was doing; that would then add greater depth to your excellent personal memories that later start to lose their impact, to me at least. Include issues of corruption and abuse of local people if they are there; you suggest it but then step back and I felt cheated of knowing the very facts the UN wont admit to.

There have been few books written from UN officals at your level and this is one I would love to buy and read several times over, but I want it all - I want both the very human side of you and those around you, and also the geopolitics of UN missions - I looked at the UN and have friends who've done similar work so heard their stories.

But the one element missing is who you really are. Put that in and I'd buy it tomorrow. I love what you've written but feel it's only half the story you could write. I do hope that makes sense. Steve.

rikasworld wrote 407 days ago

Hi Ruko, I read Ch. 5 and I think the pacing is fine. There's a nice balance of action and description, humour, grimness and personal interest. The last paragraph is extremely effective - it makes me want to kick somebody! Hard!
Picked up one typo capital t on they not needed in the bit about the army commander being killed.
I'm sure I saw something on tv just recently about the Virunga National Park being brought back to how it had been, reintroducing animals etc.
Sorry, I haven't really got any suggestions. I seems fine to me.