by Marco Fulle
(written on 30 January 2006; "Musungu" translates "White Man" into swahili language)
«At this point, we left for Nyiragongo». These are the last words of the book by Haroun Tazieff «Etna and the Volcanologists», at the end of which, twenty years ago, I discovered that to find worlds still intact to explore only depends on ourselves. If by then I could only hope of living on Etna some of the emotions described in that book (and Etna has since then donated me indeed unimaginable ones), a fantastic word like "Nyiragongo" could only express an intangible myth.
Now we are at the myth's feet, after a rushing descent of three hours, started at dawn from the campsite placed just on the rim of the immense crater, down on steep slopes partly streaked by burnt grass; then among giant waving seneci, among erica plants tall like trees, on fields of vividly colored flowers; on smooth pahoehoe lava cracking under our boots, lava only four years-old but already won by myriads of ferns; among burnt trunks with the branches adorned of silvery nests made of basalt; on aa lava flows - burning under an implacable sun; finally in the forest that already reconquers the land only temporarily lost in the fight against the fire, on a path where the warm, stifling humid breath of the forest does not prevent us from running towards the end of the adventure. We are full of what we have lived, and do not have anymore any particular, any panorama, any vision to lose: «Blessed who leaves the glass half-full!», and we run therefore like animals, staring at the path among roots and basaltic stones hidden in the grass.
The race has come to its end, the van of Marcel is ready to carry us to Goma towards a shower, the cloud of black small heads that has wrapped us at our arrival has evaporated in the equatorial air, and I sit down with Stephane on the ground, my back against his one. Finally the tension disappears, what is done is done: also the descent, for me now a problem harder than any climb, has passed. The forest moans in the wind. Behind me, a girl intones a swahili song, high-pitched, incomprehensible words: she looks at us. Following the first, another girl intones the same song, so sweet...: «Gosh, but it's a canon, it's perfect!» «Poor Musungus, who do not know to sing anymore...» Unknown harmonies run in the warm noon, flow down on the volcano flanks towards Lake Kivu, bounce on tens of ash cones, gigantic even more than those on Etna, pierce the two Musungus, wrap their cumbersome dazzling skin, melt them in the forest, in the country, in the Earth.