Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THE CONGO RIVER

Last week when I wrote about that old photo from the Congo that Mom bought, I saw a bunch of pictures online of the Congo River, and I was shocked to see how humongous this river really is.  Then I got to thinking about my distant basenji ancestors and cousins that live in the Congo area, and I figured that some of them might have even seen this river in person.  Which led me to come up with the theory that the whole reason why basenjis hate swimming so much is because our ancestors knew it would be very dangerous to swim in the Congo River, and that knowledge got  passed down in our genes for thousands of years.   I was very proud of myself for coming up with this excellent theory, and I am surprised that no one else seems to have thought it up before.


Sunrise near Mossaka
Photo by Bsm15

Okay, well, now I am going to tell you a little bit about the Congo River, but I can't tell you everything there is to know because it is a very deep subject.  Hahahaha!   The reason why that is such a good joke is because the Congo River is the deepest river in the whole world!  There are places where it is more than 720 ft (220 m) deep.  This is almost two and a half football fields, except that it's kind of hard to imagine football fields standing on end instead of lying down flat.




If you measure the amount of water that comes out at its mouth, the Congo is the 3rd largest river in the world, after the Amazon and the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna complex.  The length of the Congo is 2,920 miles (4,700 km), which makes it the 9th longest river.  In ancient times, there were some people called the Kingdom of Kongo who lived near the mouth of the river, and this is how the Congo got its name.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo are two countries that both got their names from the river.

The Congo River has always been an important way to travel through the country.

The first European to discover the mouth of the Congo River was a Portuguese explorer named Diego Cão, in 1482.  He claimed the land for Portugal.  In 1484, Cão and his men sailed up the river, looking for the King of the Congo, but they never came back home again, and no one ever knew what happened to them.


NASA photo of Malebo Pool (formerly called Stanley Pool)

Soon after that, Portuguese soldiers and priests started showing up in the Congo.  Within 50 years, lots of Congolese people were being captured and sold as slaves by European countries who were all competing with each other to get the best stuff they could from the Congo region.


Mbandaka Market
Photo by Oxfam East Africa

The rainforest that grows in the Congo River basin is the 2nd largest one in the world, after the Amazon rainforest.  There are almost 400 types of mammals living there, 1,000 kinds of birds, and 10,000 types of plants.  Also there are reptiles such as lizards, snakes and crocodiles.  Sometimes dolphins, whales, and manatees come in for a visit from the Pacific Ocean.  And hippos like to hang out in the shallow water near the river.


National Geographic photo


There are lots of really scary-looking fish in the river, too, such as the Goliath Tiger Fish.  I think one of these fish could eat a small dog in two bites, which is why it is wise for basenjis to stay far away from the water.

Goliath Tiger Fish!

I have to admit that I have no desire to go visit the land where my basenji cousins live because it seems pretty scary to me.  Mom is scared to go there, too, mostly because there is always some kind of fighting going on.  So we have agreed we will just stay home and look at the pictures.



2 comments:

  1. I read your article it remind me about my staying beside Congo river for one year during peace keeping mission in Congo(DRC). Though I am a military man but I like music and river as I belongs to Bangladesh a country which having hundreds of river in it. So your article is nice and thanks for sharing your feelings towards CONGO RIVER. I'm writing a travel story on Mbandaka, Congo so one of the chapter was only for Congo river where we had a voyage for whole day. I like and love Africa.

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    1. Dear Mr. Bangladeshi,
      I am very glad that you liked my blog entry about the Congo River. It is also good that you were able to go to the DRC on a peace-keeping mission. I wish there weren't so much fighting in that country. My mom sponsors a boy in Bangladesh. His name is Joy, and he is 14 years old. He is very smart and writes very nice letters to my mom.
      Sincerely, Piper

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