Radio Okapi Kindu: The Station That Helped Bring Peace to the Congo; A Memoir

In This Review

Radio Okapi Kindu: The Station That Helped Bring Peace to the Congo;A Memoir
By Jennifer Bakody
Figure 1 Publishing, 2017
304 pp.
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In 2004, Bakody spent nine months in Kindu, a provincial capital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, managing a radio station set up by the UN peacekeeping force at a time when the country’s civil war, which originally began in 1996, appeared to be winding down. (In fact, it has still yet to fully end.) She has written a deeply affecting memoir of her time there, one that details the enormous difficulties faced by journalists in poor, war-torn regions with great empathy. The usual problem with this type of book is that it places too much attention on the foreign narrator and too little on the local people. But Bakody inserts herself in the story mostly to deprecate her own experience and knowledge and emphasizes instead her local colleagues, who made the radio station a success—often at great personal sacrifice and risk. One dramatic highlight is the brilliantly understated account that one of Bakody’s colleagues gives of how he was brutally beaten by soldiers in retaliation for a story he wrote about the army’s poor performance in battle. Thanks to Bakody’s talent for snappy dialogue, eye for detail, and humorous prose, the book never flags, even when its pace slows down to capture the everyday slog of running a radio station. 

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