Drivers in Kinshasa are crazy! There just aren’t any rules and no one really listens to the police. Whenever there is a stretch of open road, people feel it’s their right to drive there. They’ll drive on the wrong side of the road, or on a sidewalk, or in a ditch… really anywhere they can fit their cars. And if your car breaks down here, you just leave it where it stopped—no need to push it off to the side.
On this particular evening, the problem was a box truck without tires facing the wrong direction in the middle of the lane. We were on the only road out of Kinshasa in this direction and it was backed up for more than five kilometers, leaving us stuck in traffic.
To make the situation worse, when people driving into town saw that traffic was not leaving town, they took the opportunity to drive down the wrong side of the road. The area around the box truck was thrown into traffic chaos as vehicles faced off, with no one wanting to give up the road.
After sitting in the car for about an hour, my husband Nick and our friend (who are both very tall men) decided they would direct traffic. They recruited four policemen, one army general in a suit, and a young teenage boy who asked Nick and our friend if they were “experts.” The boy was very surprised and excited when they told him he could help. Working together, they pushed several cars out of the way and push-started several others. By the time I reached them they were having the time of their lives and stated that they now know what to do on a Saturday night if they are ever bored.
At first, the men tried to direct traffic by telling people what to do. Then our friend had a “God thought.” He began thanking folks for their cooperation and telling them how much he appreciated their help. The responses from people changed immediately! They didn’t know what to do when they were thanked, but they stopped yelling as much and did what they were asked.
Isn’t it interesting? When we truly put into practice, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” even the most belligerent among us will stop and recognize that a need deep in their soul has been fulfilled.