I Did It Again

Finally I had the chance to make a nice panorama of Kibali gold mine. The current was made by my mobile phone and did not really satisfy me.

So below is the fully panorama of Kibali gold mine in a better resolution and colors.  I still advise to open the picture and watch it in more detail.


Kibali Gold Mine; Watsa, DR Congo – (c) Mark Häberli 2014

_MG_5960 Panorama cut (Groß)


La Musique Congolaise

Je ne suis pas tellement dans la musique, mais je voulais quand même vous montrer la musique congolaise. Ces trois chansons de Lokua Kanza j’aime beaucoup et c’est pourquoi je tiens à rendre public aujourd’hui. Le texte est principalement en français et si vous venez d’entendre la musique que vous pourrait ne pas reconnaître que cela vient du Congo. Cependant, il est très agréable!

Ai-je besoin de dire quelque chose d’autre? Non, il suffit d’écouter et apprécier!


Plus vivant:


Je ne ai pas choisi (mon préféré):


I believe in you:



Cette chanson est de Wenge Musica et le nom est Kin e bouger:




How To Get Friends For 2000 $ Or “Commission, Bribe & Co”

Today I would like to write about a topic which is usually an uncommon topic for European, as we basically only get selden in contact with things like bribe and commission. However, in Africa the world is different and corruption is unfortunately everywhere.

The corruption rate is rated with the Corruption Perception(s) Index (CPI) by Transparency International. Switzerland is ranked at Nr. 6 while Uganda is 130 and Congo (DRC) is at 160 (out of 174).

I would say bribing is a normal thing in Africa. It is part of the culture. It is something which need not be hidden or try to cover. It is just done. Some people don’t even recognize it! When I came to Uganda the first time, I thought it can not get worse with bribing! But then I reached to DRC and I realised Uganda is heaven…

In Uganda people usually bribe when they do (or assume they do) something wrong like over speeding. Police will say: “Sir, you have been caught by over speeding. You need to pay 200’000 ugs (80 $) and afterwards we have to confiscate the car”.  How to solve that issue? They will ask for 20’000 ugs and have not seen anything. That’s how it went when I was sitting in my friend’s car.

In Congo (DRC) it is quite different. You just pay everywhere, without any reason. For example: The trucks of a friend are working in the mine in Congo, but have Ugandan number plates. After working a few weeks in the mine, suddenly two trucks were arrested. Reason: they wanted “to meet” him. As the number plates are foreign, a fee has to be paid. As usual for the fee there is no official receipt nor other documents. Afterwards he paid, he did not get disturbed anymore and suddenly he has new “friends” which are greeting him very friendly on the street…


Unfortunately this sign makes it clear:



Social Control

An interesting effect which I have discovered in Africa is – I call it – “Social Control”. Social control is an effect which is not common for me in Europe and describes “doing favours or lending/borrow money to unknown people”.

In Europe I never would have the idea to borrow valuable things or ask for favours to unknown/not-well known people. In Africa that is quite common. Two examples:

  1. A guy in Congo who I hardly knew came to me and asked me if I could take his new smart phone for repair to Kampala. He gave me his complete phone with packaging, money for repair and address where I should bring it. I was quite surprise that people trust each other (there are so many cheaters) and he gave a valuable phone to me.
  2. The second case happened to me. In the beginning of my time in Congo, when I did not have my bank account there, it was always a challenge to get money. I m not carry a lot of money with me, while it is difficult to run a business without cash. So when I once was running out in cash, people who I hardly know borrowed me a few thousand dollars. Quite nice to get help like that!

The principle of this paradox of doing things like favours or borrow money while you always have to take care who you trust, I call it social control. Actually it is quite simply: People who you know connect you to people who can help you. Because this “middle man” knows you (good), he make the connection. While you are suddenly think you are on the dead-end, miraculously help is coming.

470895364837214099_824c5de6b84c fre


Another Way To Transport

When I m driving in Kampala, I like to spot the boda-boda (motor cycles) which are transporting big things. I think I have seen a lot in my time in Kampala. Some examples are:

  • Bed
  • Truck tyres
  • Glass (1×2 m)
  • Tables
  • 5 people (driver, mother, father and child and baby)

Below you see a picture of a boda guy on the “high way” to Entebbe who is transporting a table and about 6 chairs. You see, that the motor cycle takes about the width of a car! And when he is driving about 50 km/h it looks like he will make an accident any moment. The only thing you can do is overtake is quickly or keep distance.


Fixing, Replacing & Modification

In Africa it does not make sense to bring the newest things. Cars, buses and other things are getting spoiled quickly. A new car has a scratch from a passing Boda soon or due to poor service and uneducated people machinery is suffering.

If it is the case that a part, e.g. on the bus, breaks, you have three possibilities: Fixing it, replacing it or make a modification. In a good case you just need to fix it. Let say a bold is loose. Tight it and the job is done.

Sometimes a part, like an oil seal, is broken completely, there is no chance beside replacing it. In Kampala pretty all spare parts are somehow available. New or used. If you look for it, you will find it.

However, sometimes it happens that a spare part is not (yet) available or you are too far to wait for delivery. In this case you have to make modification. Modification is the most risky part of the business. The people here do not have the possibility to make an apprenticeship or join any education. So especially mechanic do a lifelong training on the job. If it comes to modification, they have to improvise. My article about the replacement of the front screen of a bus is good example. WP_001067

Modification of the front screen: Using the edges of the broken glass and replace the broken middle part

I am often astonished when the mechanics fixed my knocked engine in middle of Congo with more or less nothing. I don’t know why but probably due to sabotage or missing knowledge two buses knocked the engine in Congo last year at the same time. In this case my mechanic ordered the spares (main and piece bearings, piston rings etc) in Kampala and dissembled the whole engine. Something which mechanics in Switzerland probably dream about it.

I am always astonished how they fixed it (and I also think I am not alone…).

WP_001045Open engine (driver hit the oil tank, broke the oil tube and thus metal parts got into the engine)

WP_001044Some of the parts. For me it always looks like a puzzle and get worried, when bolts and parts left after fixing everything and the mechanic tells me this bolt were not necessary at all…

altAjLDt87EwBantMKMHC14g5tpQdTi0dK1tga_jx0ljwcXOne-by-one: Part by part of the engine rebuilt.

WP_001041And then, when the engine runs smoothly with smooth sound – everyone is fascinated.

BUSiness Or Unbelievable Stories!

There were a few situations which I always keep in mind:

  1.  I went once to the garage and my mechanics were draining the fuel tank of a bus to prepare it for welding. I could not believe what I saw when my mechanic was filling fuel from the tank into a jerry can with a cigarette in his mouth…
  2. My mechanic is checking the battery acid of new batteries by tasting it: He puts his finger into the sulphuric acid and put a bit on his tongue. I am not sure if he can do a valuable judgment.
  3.  At another strike, when there was a lack of transport and the people were walking about 5 km from the mine to the town, they were take one of my drivers as a hostile. (The reason behind is that a bus is only allowed to carry more people than seats and when my driver refused, they got very angry). Touch wood, they threatened from time to time to stone the bus or even to turn it. So far it did not happen with (my) bus.
  4. Can you guess what you see on the picture below? WP_001163I was surprised when the guy came with this thing and was fixing my whole bus with it. Right, that tool is a “welding machine”. Please note all the open wires at the welding machine. I don’t want to imagine what happens when you touch one of the wires. However it work and the guy did a very good job.
  5. A few months ago I wanted to load some money on my mobile phone. This time it did not work and so I called the call center. They solved the problem very quickly and very good: Surprisingly they did not load the 80’000 ugs (30 $), instead they put 800’000 ugs on my mobile phone! Well, lucky me!WP_001062