River Lokenyi

We travelled from Lodja to Tshumbe on Friday, July 15.  Father Jules Lusumbu picked up Albert Shuyaka, Peter Nugent and me at the Passionist Retreat and we set off on the first leg of our trip.

We crossed the old bridge over the Loheyi River, not far from where the diocese is constructing a new one.

Soon we came to a  construction project at the Loheyi River.  Father Jules explained that the new bridge is an initiative of Bishop Nicolas Djomo, but we would have to cross the old bridge for now.

After another half hour, we came to the River Lokenyi, a broad stream where there is no bridge at all.  We said goodbye to Father Jules, who returned to Lodja.  Some boys appeared and carried our bags down to the water.

The boatmen load our gear onto the Lokenyi River ferry.

There was the ferry — a long, hollowed-out log.  We loaded our bags and, with the help of one of the boatmen, stepped into the log and crouched down.  The ferry boat captain would stand in the front of the log, grasp a cable suspended above the water, and pull the boat to the other side by sheer strength of muscle.  The trip took about three or four minutes.  I think that they kept the boat deliberately light to minimize the danger to the two usungu or white men.

Peter Nugent enjoyed his trip across the river in the hollowed-out log.

After we got out on the other side, more people jumped in for the return trip.  Then, when the boat got back to the original side, Albert Shuyaka got in, along with lots of other people and even a motorcycle.  It was amazing to see people lift the bike into the log and hold it upright.

Albert Shuyaka (sitting) crosses the Lokenyi, along with twelve other passengers and a motorcycle.

When Albert got over to our side, we greeted our new driver, Andre Omombo, and jumped into the Toyota Landcruiser for the next leg of our trip.  We had lunch at the parish of St. Joseph of Okolo, and then drove for another hour and half.  The unpaved roads were pretty good for the most part, but towards the end we had to squeak past a car that had gotten stuck in a ditch.  But eventually we made it to Bishop Djomo’s house in Tshumbe.

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