Travels in Africa

Fred and Donanne Hunter

TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, In Limbo in Léo, 1964, Part One

Fred Hunter was evacuated from his post as a USIS officer at the American Cultural Center in the northwest Congo at the orders of the senior officer Tom Madison. Fred felt the evacuation was precipitate and jeopardized the investment he and the US had made in the town. He agitated to return. His account: Late […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Eight

As it becomes clearer to Fred that Madison’s precipitate evacuation from Coq may damage his reputation, he tries to wangle a return to the Equateur. The reaction in Léo: Get lost! Evacuating refugees from Coq: in the plane flying back to Léo, I become more and more convinced that Jules is right. If we do […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Seven

Tom Madison, the USIS officer in charge of the American Cultural Center in Coquilhatville in the northwest Congo, decided to evacuate the post in the face of rebel advances toward Coq. The evacuation impacted the American reputation in the town. But was it truly justified? An account of the immediate aftermath: After we arrived in […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Six

Tom Madison decides that USIS will evacuate Coq. More from the letter of 9/3/64: Wednesday there seemed no reason for a precipitate departure. That evening some packing for the C-130 scheduled to take out some of our belongings. I also wanted to write down a log of what has been happening. But too tired. Despite […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Five

Questions from a couple of readers invite these prefatory remarks. As must be obvious, the posts draw extensively, sometimes completely, from letters written at the time things were happening. The Situation reads as more dangerous than it felt. I do not recall ever feeling afraid during this time. However, I was very conscious of not […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Four

As The Situation deteriorates, evacuation preparations go forward. Significant differences remain as to when an evacuation should occur. [In preparing these blog posts, I’ve been aware that some passages of the letters quoted show a nastiness that does not reflect well on me. Some editors would excise it. But in times of extreme tension people […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Three

Fred and Tom Madison try to understand The Situation. Not easy. I made notes on the reverse of the letter 8/29/64 quoted in the last post. They said: All Congolese talking of the rebels, calling each other Soumialot, for instance. [Gaston Soumialot was one of the leaders of the rebellion, a lieutenant of the Congo’s […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part Two

As the rebellion gains force, the likelihood of Coq’s being threatened seems inevitable. Rumors fly around the town. Coquins flee to Léopoldville. from a letter dated Coquilhatville 29 August 64 Saturday Went out to the airport Thursday afternoon. The military attachés had gone to fly over Lisala and Bumba [north of Coq], and Madison and […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Running from Rebels, 1964, Part One

Recapping the backstory of these posts: Just off a training tour with US Information Service in Brussels, Belgium, Fred Hunter was sent to a remote outpost in the northwest Congo, a town called Coquilhatville, the former capital of the Belgian colonial province of Equateur. His assignment: establish an American Cultural Center. After months of isolation, […]

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TRAVELS IN AFRICA: CONGO, Life in a Cultural Center, 1964

By early August the American Cultural Center in Coquilhatville was manned by two American officers, Tom Madison and Fred Hunter and three Congolese: Iwo Pierre, who had done a “stage” in the US, N’Djoku Pierre (n’djoku means elephant) and Ahenga Raphael, a driver. The center included a library of books about the US or written […]

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