Reporters on the Job

Stones and Brimstone: Staff writer Scott Baldauf was returning from talking with teens in the capital of Congo on Saturday when violence broke out.

"Street youths in Kinshasa's Place du Mandela hurled rocks at cars carrying Westerners. They hit an SUV right in front of us," says Scott who was riding with his interpreter. "They were supporters of presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba.

His supporters accuse Westerners of imposing their will on the Congolese elections. They also blocked roads to Mr. Bemba's house with burning tires. Congolese police responded quickly by firing tear gas, and later heavy machine guns, and after a few gun battles with Bemba supporters, police had managed to retake control of the streets by early afternoon. Officials reported that two people were killed in the fighting.

The next day, Scott went to a Pentecostal church, the same one attended by his interpreter and the bishop in charge of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The open-air building was filled to overflowing with about 400 people. A small choir and rock band performed African melodies.

The service was supposed to end at noon but went until almost 1:30 p.m. The pastor appealed for calm as the country awaits the election results. "It wasn't a political message per se, but it encouraged people to be patient and was sprinkled with practical advice," Scott says.

"Brothers and sisters, if you hear a noise like this – boom boom boom – don't go outside," the pastor said. "One man went onto his balcony to see what was happening, and he was killed by bullets. I also ask our Swahili speakers, please, don't speak out loud on the street. The people of Kinshasa who speak Lingala, they don't like it."

Scott says that the service was "incredibly emotional. After the violence the day before, I found it powerful. It brought me a sense of peace."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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