Page 301. " Moses and the Egyptians and the river running with blood "

This is a reference to the story of Moses freeing the Hebrews from the Egyptians in the Bible's Book of Exodus. 

God cursed the Egyptians with ten plagues, including disease and locusts. One of the plagues God inflicted on Egypt was turning the river to blood. 

Page 317. " a hand in the diamond business "

Two thirds of the world's diamonds come from Africa.

"Conflict diamonds" are stones mined in a war zone, usually to pay for weapons and so prolong the conflict.

Page 318. " And a young Congolese man named Joseph Mobutu "
Joseph Mobutu
Public DomainJoseph Mobutu - Credit: BBC News

Joseph Mobutu took control of the Congo on September 14th, 1960, in a CIA-sponsored coup. The incumbent prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, had accepted much-needed aid from the Soviet Union. All Soviet advisors fled the country, and Mobutu accused Lumumba of pro-communist sympathies. Mobutu remained dictator of Congo/Zaire for nearly three decades, until he was ousted, and subsequently died, in 1997. 

He was one of history's most corrupt leaders, embezzling over five billion dollars from his own country.

Page 322. " The army recaptured Lumumba less than fifty miles from our village "

When Patrice Lumumba was captured (and, after escaping, recaptured), he was tortured and humiliated; for example, he was made to eat one of his own speeches. He was eventually executed by firing squad on January 17, 1961.  American and Belgian authorities conspired in his removal, and assisted Mobutu's men in arresting and assassinating him.

His death was at first kept secret; then it was claimed he had been the victim of enraged villagers while trying to escape.  Lumumba's body was eventually exhumed, cut in pieces and dissolved in sulphuric acid, in an attempt to cover up the crime.   

Note: some of the details given by Orleanna and Leah about Lumumba's murder are incorrect, possibly to reflect the common beliefs of the time. 

 

Page 323. " I sat by my radio in Atlanta listening to Senator Church and the special committee hearings on the Congo. "

Frank Church
Public DomainFrank Church - Credit: US Congress
Senator Frank F. Church from Idaho chaired the United States Senate Select Committee that studied governmental operations. The committee examined illegal activities in government affairs, in particular those perpetrated by the CIA and the FBI.

Between 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on alleged abuses of law. One report examined attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. As a consequence of the Church Committee report, President Ford was persuaded to ban U.S. invovlement in the assassination of foreign leaders (Executive Order 11905).

The Church Report