Congolese Grandpa is a biography on the life of Ukerdhogu Jalukal Evariste, who I know simply as “Grandpa”. His life inspired me when I first visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and it was a story I felt a fire to see told; I had little choice in producing this book.
Grandpa has lived through many eras in the Congo, from colonial days in his youth, to manhood in war in the aftermath of Congo independence, to years in exile in nearby Uganda, to finally return to the DRC at the end of Mobutu’s dictatorship.
His life is one of contrasts. Grandpa has done much; and yet is poor, without coins to rub together. He played a fundamental role in building the DRC; and yet he has been unable to build a home of his own, to the chagrin of his older children. There is no retirement for him. Over the age of eighty, he still seeks to improve the Congo through his project work, counsel and medical skills.
The media tells us many tales of woe – both past and present – from the DRC. It also predicts many more years of darkness to come for that land. However there is much beauty and hope within that nation and many of its people hold a strong determination to bring positive change. It is hoped that Grandpa’s story will shed light on the lives of the ordinary people living extraordinary lives within the Congo. It is also hoped that Grandpa’s story will cause the global community to once again have hope for that golden nation, which contains many treasures if one but takes the time to look.