Hearts of darkness uncovered in the classroom and the Congo
And of course they were, but it’s the same content created, viewed and replied to any number of times a day by our teenagers. It showed some of the postings from the ask.fmsite, which included sexualised language and alarmingly abusive remarks, the sort of stuff that wouldn’t be printed in a newspaper. The warning to TV viewers established context and set boundaries, highlighting one of the differences between traditional and social media.
FOR THE FIRST INa new series of What in the World documentaries (Tuesday, RTÉ One), Peadar King travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, forever known as “the heart of darkness”, as it was labelled by the novelist Joseph Conrad. It’s the poorest country on the planet, said King, requiring the second-largest international peacekeeping force – the largest is in Darfur – to try to carve a small oasis of safety in a chaotic, brutal country mercilessly ruled by ever-changing militias.
King’s style is straightforward and direct, with no fancy visuals or macho posturing about the dangers of filming (though you sensed a permanent threat in a country where children carry Kalashnikovs). But no embellishment is needed to communicate the living horror of thousands of children abducted and forced to fight for the militias and women raped as a weapon of war.
He interviewed a former child soldier and a teenager who had been kidnapped as a sex slave by the militia but who, pregnant, had escaped and found refuge in a centre – their identities, incidentally, were concealed, presumably to protect them from repercussions. King told the story clearly and powerfully. It’s impossible in such a short film to fully explore the geopolitics and history of a large, complex country that’s permanently at war, but he did give an insight into the day-to-day reality of life in DR Congo. Realistically, given what he had shown us, it ended without a glimmer of hope.
MAKERS OF BOTTLED WATERmissed a trick by not heading to Gleann na nGealt, or Glen of the Mad, on the Dingle Peninsula and buying the two wells there. They were first discovered in the 1500s, and for centuries depressed and “mad” people have headed to that very beautiful part of Co Kerry to take the waters because of the benefit on their mental health. During the last century a story grew up that the water contained lithium, a chemical that is now acknowledged as a mood stabiliser. There was lot of local lore and history in Cogar (TG4, Sunday) before the real business of testing the water. As a scientist, Henry Lyons was sceptical, believing that if people’s mood was lifted it was because the glen is a beautiful, peaceful place. He found that the water, particularly in one of the wells, contains relatively high levels of lithium – more than 13 times the norm for the general water supply, so it must have some effect. Although the locals were thrilled with the news, Lyons said you’d have to drink 2,000 litres a day to get the minimum prescribed dose.
Get stuck into . . .
Afternoon schedules are clogged with antiques and property programmes, so Today (RTÉ One, daily), a new sofa-based magazine-style offering, with Dáithí O Sé, Maura Derrane, Norah Casey and Bláithnaid Ní Chofaigh, might be a livelier alternative.