|"Vessel of Last Resort" (1995) Jeffrey
Taylor, Atlantic Monthly
Taylor went to Africa in the spirit of the Great Anglo-American
explorer and adventurer Henry Morton Stanley who led an expedition up
the Congo in 1876 in search of the source of the Nile and the lost
British missionary, Dr. Livingstone. ("Dr. Livingstone, I
presume?"). Taylor was after the "primal truth of the
Congo" (2). He hoped to test his character against the rigor of the
ultimate African experience: paddling the Congo in a dugout canoe from
Kinsangami to Kinshasha.
What did he find on the Congo in 1995?
Choose details from Taylor's vivid descriptions of his barge voyage
upriver and then judge for yourself what remains of the Congo Stanley
encountered in 1876.
|(1) Describe Kinshasha, Zaire's capital city.
(2) Describe the barge on which Taylor traveled upriver.
(3-4) Describe life on board the barge after it had taken on
its full load of passengers.
- Why do these people risk their lives on this
rancid, disease infested barge?
- What does it feel like to bathe in Congo river
- Describe the millenia old trade pattern in which
the passengers engage as they travel upriver.
(4-6) How does life on board change as the barge reaches the
equatorial rain forest.
- What happens at noon?
- Describe the flora and fauna Taylor observes.
- To what evening delicacies do the passengers treat
- Describe sunset on the river. (QUOTE)
- Describe the thunderstorm after the barge runs
- What is eternal about the Congo?
(7) When the barge passes one impoverished village, natives
in rags paddle furiously towards them.
- How does the boat owner drive them off?
- What do the villagers think of mondele like
- Can you discern what life was like on the Congo
- In what primary way has life changed since the
arrival of the Europeans?