When he first came to us, I had no idea who this guy really was, because he gave me his first name, and not his last. Had he given me his last name, I would have known right away that he was the very same villain who had tormented Cleve all last year.
If you didn’t speak French, you’d imagine this guy was friendly and jolly. With a big, wide smile and pudgy, Santa-esque features, you’d imagine the words coming out of his mouth had to do with lollipops and sunshine, maybe.
What a gross contradiction, then, to hear and understand the bile and lies that emit from that mouth.
His first quandary was PAPERWORK, the crutch of Congo, that he insisted we must fill out to be sent to Kisangani.
I let him know of our plans, for, being with the law and having permission already, I didn’t believe it would be a problem to disclose our intent to move the chimpanzees to Bukavu. How wrong I was!
I figured he’d come up with some sort of money scam, but imagine my surprise when he presented us with a request for over $3000!!
Conformément à l’Arrête Interministérial No066/CAB/MIN/FIN-BUD et No 067/CAB/AFF-ET/2003 du 27 Mars 2003 fixant les taux des Taxes et redevances en matière forêstiere et de Faume, j’ai l’honneur de transmettre ci-dessous le montant à payer au Service de l’Environnement pour la détention de vos Chimpanzes (espèces totalement protenger) et l’evacuation vers la Province du Sud-Kivu (Bukavu).
- 1.Certificat de legitime detention d’animaux: 1000$ par espèce
- 2.Autorisation d’élèage d’animaux $200
- 3.Certificat d’origine: 30 $ espèce
- 4.Certificat d’indentication d’ongd: $200
- 5.Frais de constitution du dossier l’identifcation des Specimen, de contrôle volière au d’animalène( = $500
- 6.La taxe sur la convention de réalisation d’un film, d’une étude ou d’une prospection dans un domaine de chasse ou Site determine est fixé $1000
- 7.Permis d’exportation des espèces Menacées est fixe 60$ x 5 = $300
- 8.Permis de Séjour dans domaine de chasse: $85 x 14 jours = $1.190
Even if you don’t speak French, I’m sure you can see these escalating numbers. How remarkable too that the Certificate of Legitimate Detention that we had obtained at the end of last year for $17 had gone up in price so considerably! Serious inflation indeed!
Thus began our war, against his corruption and to protect the rights of the chimpanzees that we had fought so valiantly to protect.
This letter, however, was really only an the crux of a plot to intimidate us into paying false taxes -- with the meat of the plot being to send the chimpanzees to the KISANGANI ZOO ... a dungeon that was ravaged during the war. Once a beautiful home to countless indigenous species, most of the animals there had been eaten. Animals residing there now are rarely fed, and look like war victims.
There are two chimpanzees there -- one adult male, alone, who is thin and smokes, and a female, kept in a sunless box, alone.
The “plan” according to this official (Mister Moibi) was to bring the chimps to Buta, to then be flown with MONUC to Kisagani for residence at the Zoo.
And if he could scare me into believing that this was true, perhaps I would pay him the $3000!
The theoretical versus the actual is always sticky here, because how exactly was he planning to even get the chimps to Buta, 125km away? With whose motorcycles? With what gas? It’s one thing to say, but quite another thing to do!
The very thought of the chimps here going to the Kisangani Zoo, though, was indeed terrifying! As I told Rachel the history on the phone today, she equated it with Red Lobster, a metaphor I found to be pretty funnily accurate! Pick what animal you wish to eat when you enter the establishment!
Because whatever animals they don’t feel like feeding they can always just feed to people, right? Nothing beats a zoo with slogan like “Come and See the Animals We Haven’t Eaten Yet.”
Anyway, I digress.
It’s been sort of a crisis center here - trying to relay what’s happening to relevant colleagues and to find local support that doesn’t need to be bought. It doesn’t help either that Mr Moibi seems to come by the house every day with renewed insistence that we pay the taxes he’s ascribed us, with further “assistance” from our “friend” Papa B, who insists on being the intermediary between us and Mr Moibi (though we’re not sure whose side he’s on or to what end).
We did finally find legitimate confirmation today that the taxes are false, provided to us by the former Minister of the Environment, who had previously helped us arrest the men responsible for Akuma’s mother’s murder. He wrote up a complete dossier for us on the actuality of the situation, which we will use to defend our position, though why it is necessary when we are technically within the Congolese law with the documents we already have is beyond me.
And according to him, all of the taxes issued to us are only applicable to commercial enterprises -- people who are SELLING chimps. Amazing that they have taxes for something that is technically illegal in the country!
We wait too for our contacts in the ICCN to come to our aid, and for a quick resolution to this blatant intimidation ploy for money.
I don’t believe that my nightmares about the chimps being seized from us will go away until we’re out of here in 13 days, but with luck, they might diminish once ICCN has phoned up this tyrant and gotten his surrender flag.
I wish that day would come already!!