I followed up on Atticus’ tip about the pharmaceutical factory. I was hesitant to publish my report, but I cannot turn a blind eye to the real corruption in this country. I will accept whatever consequences may come my way. Here’s the opening paragraph from my story. It hits the papers tomorrow:
10-year old Oliver Chamisa died overnight in his mother’s arms. For the past 2 weeks, his mother had treated him with artesunate, a highly effective anti-malaria treatment she purchased on the black market. It was these tablets, not the malaria, that killed the small boy.
25 kilometres southeast of Port Selao, APR soldiers stand guard outside a small factory where thousands of artesunate tablets are produced daily. All of it junk.
The story goes on to examine the APR’s motives and the sad toll on Africans, the people Tambossa supposedly wants to protect. I still can barely believe it myself. When I met him, Tambossa spoke so forcefully about the need for African unity and peace. And yet his soldiers guard this grim factory.
I went there to see for myself. I won’t bore you with the hours of surveillance. But there was this moment:
As I drove back to town, my vehicle stalled about 20 kilometres outside of Port Selao. With no help in sight. After several minutes staring at the engine willing it to start, a small pickup truck rumbled up beside me. APR from the factory. Jammed with men carrying AK-47s, they all hopped out at once. All Africans, they were part of the local militia who joined up with the new factions after the government’s collapse. I tensed up. This could turn ugly.
As two of the men approached me, three others started circling the vehicle. I performed a fast mental checklist – what was I carrying with me? My notes on the factory! What did I write?
But then a voice shouted out, “Here’s your problem.” I turned to see
all three men looking at my engine. One of them climbed into the
driver’s seat. The two started pulling and wiggling at cables and god
knows what. One of the men standing next to me offered a cigarette. I
“Try it now!” He turned the engine. After two attempts, the car rumbled to life. They all smiled, clapping each other’s backs. In seconds, they were back in the van waving and rumbling off towards Port Selao.
It was the oddest encounter I’ve had yet with the APR.