Rwanda: Letter from Goma, 1991: Goma was not always a place of despair. This is how Oliver Woolley, a British visitor, described the town before the catastrophe:

STEPPING off the aeroplane, the green mountains surround you. A hot dry breeze blows in off the lake, and meadows of blue flowers give off a sweet, faintly narcotic fragrance. Goma itself is a very manageable town with one central boulevard where almost everything seems to be. We stayed in the Catholic mission which was very proper, clean and matronly . . . There are flowers everywhere here, and the garden is a very pleasant place to be in as the sun drops and the howling night noises begin.

People cart in fruit and vegetables from the surrounding countryside by whatever means available - in some cases mighty Heath- Robinson scooters strapped high with bananas or spring onions. So much grows here: passion fruit, mangoes, sugar cane and strawberries . . . The banana plantations are sprouting like gigantic cress out of the incredibly fertile plateau, with its misty views over the volcanic rock . . . Lake Kivu, beside Goma, is a spectacle in itself, with waves larger than those in the Mediterranean, slapping against the rocky shore.