THE tragedy of the Congo is now part of history. In Out of the Jaws of the Lion, Homer E. Dowdy gives a moving account of the experiences of missionaries, Protestant and Catholic, held as hostages by the Simbas in 1964 (Hodder & Stoughton, 18s.).
"The standard of life in the Congo was the highest of any African colony", says the author. "What more could it want? Only one thing: Independence." Alas, independence brought civil war. Some semblance of order was restored by United Nations forces. Then, "from jungle hideouts wild bands of young men were striking out to terrorise villages, government posts, monasteries and mission posts". They were the Simbas.
by witch doctors, they entered Stanleyville, and life became a nightmare. Beatings and murders were the order of the day, with instances of cannibalism. Led Congolese, too, suffered. For the terror, says the author, was dictated not so much by racialism as by "a cold cal
culation for political power". Nevertheless, it was better to have a British than an American passport.
Dr. Paul Carlson was killed just as the rescuing paratroopers arrived. His wife, declining to take his body back to America, told the Congolese: "I know he would have chosen to stay with you."
Her words express the spirit of the missionaries, whose lack of bitterness equals their faith and courage. This on-the-scene account of what human beings can endure and survive is an inspiring story. Photographs and a map add to its interest.