Skip to main content
In search of world history in everyday stories

The High Plains

Lieve Joris

Lieve Joris first travelled to Congo in 1985, in the footsteps of her great uncle who was a missionary. In Back to the Congo she wrote of a search for her colonial history in the heart of Africa. More than twenty years and two Congo books later, she turned her attention to the high plains in the east of the country, an inhospitable region without roads or electricity that was never fully colonized by the Belgians, where a combination of militarism, superstition and prophesy governs daily life. The colonel who controls the region assigns Joris a guide.

Journalism, only better than that; the literature of reality

They walk from market to market, sleeping in huts and schools, but gradually the power of the colonel starts to decline and the guide becomes increasingly insecure. The ancient landscape brings back powerful memories of Joris’ childhood village. The trip comes to feel like a farewell, a final challenge to be faced.