Raissa Malu

A book and a documentary movie for you

Adventurers who explore the wilderness inspire each of us to take risks, especially in the area of knowledge.

When I have to fly during the day, I reserve a fascinating book to help me get through (faster) the eight-hour flight from Brussels to Kinshasa, for instance. Last time, I chose the book Instincts by Sarah Marquis from Editions Michel Lafon, which tells the story of the 3 months she spent alone walking in the Australian wild west.

Here is the text on the back cover: "Sarah Marquis went face to face with nature, with no food provisions or traces of humans on the horizon. Just crocodile-infested rivers, snakes, inextricable vegetation, loneliness, hunger, and above all thirst. She survived thanks to the ancestral techniques of the aborigines. She tells us here the story of an unforgettable adventure in breathtaking scenery, but also an inner journey that allows her to give us a glimpse of the fabulous resources that each one of us possesses deep inside. Forget about fear to better assess the danger, connect with the Earth by respecting it and trust your instincts. This is the beautiful message of this extraordinary woman."

An extraordinary woman

Beautiful narration and beautiful message indeed. Knowing that we will never be able to achieve the same physical feat as her (here I speak for myself), Sarah Marquis nevertheless manages to convince us that inner surpassing and awareness are possible for us as it was possible for her (for us, it will be in the "jungle" or in the "bush" of our modern cities 😉). If I had to sum up Sarah Marquis' message, I would say that she says: "If I am an extraordinary woman, you are at least as extraordinary as I am!"

It was with this thought that I closed the book about an hour before landing in Kinshasa. And then suddenly, the image of another extraordinary woman came back to my mind and I remembered that I had a documentary movie to watch on the SN Brussels Airlines lines: "Mbudha, the source of chimpanzees" by my friend Anne Laudisoit.

A field biologist

Anne Laudisoit is a Belgian biologist and adventurer (in the noblest sense, as for Sarah Marquis) whom I met in Kinshasa a few years ago. It was our mutual friend, Professor Fridolin Kodondi Kule-Koto, Director General of the Institut de recherche en sciences de la santé (IRSS) and President of the National Scientific Council who introduced us. Prof. Kodondi was impressed by this young woman who did not hesitate to go into the slums of Kinshasa at night to look for (big) rats (!), the subject of her research (that is why I did not choose biology as a field, protons and neutrons are much more comfortable to study). He was convinced that we were meant to get along and he was right.

So I watched the movie like one devours a delicacy. What a joy to see Anne again (we don't see her very often, she is always in the field), but above all what a joy to see these Congolese scientists from the Biodiversity Monitoring Centre of the University of Kisangani who are looking for chimpanzees for the first time in this region near Lake Albert in the few remaining pockets of forest where they weren't thought to be found.

Working with local people

According to Anne, this scientific expedition would be the first in this area of the DRC. The small team went in search of the chimpanzees, but also in search of animal and plant species that would have been little or not documented in that way. And this work was done with the help of local people who provided much more than logistical support. They shared their knowledge to help these Congolese scientists in their quest. It is wonderful and moving to see this teamwork, this mutual respect, this meeting between science and local knowledge.

I am particularly proud to talk about the Kisangani Biodiversity Monitoring Centre. Those among you who have participated in previous editions of Science and Technology Week have certainly heard of it. It is one of our regular exhibitors. They come every year to Kinshasa with great pleasure to participate in this event.

Making Congolese knowledge in science visible

Science and Technology Week is a showcase for our universities, research centres, Congolese and African knowledge and know-how in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is an opportunity for them to meet young people to encourage vocations and the general public to tell another story and imagine another future for our country, our continent, our planet.

These two stories, these two women, give me the opportunity to pay tribute to the Adventurers. They are not only those women who have the courage to set out (physically) to discover the mysterious, beautiful and wild nature. It is also those who have the courage to go against the established order. Those who embark on technical and scientific studies and courses of study despite little encouragement from those around them. Those who have the courage to (re)visit ancestral knowledge and skills in order to reappropriate them and move forward. Those who intend to break the glass ceiling. If I had to teach only one thing to my daughters, it would be this taste for Adventure.

So read this book by Sarah Marquis and when you take your next flight on SN Brussels Airlines, watch the documentary movie "Mbudha, the source of chimpanzees" (I should ask SN Brussels Airlines for a sponsorship for the 7th edition of the Science and Technology Week for this ad 😉), you will learn a lot and if you are Congolese or if you love the DRC, you will be very proud. 😊

Science is fun, join us !

This post has first been published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in English by Afriscitech.

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