My first solo DXpedition
I had already a number contacts with Julian 9Q5MA over time. Because there was very little activity from Zaire, especially in CW I asked Julian if he could assist me for an exclusive CW operation from Zaire for about a week. Julian liked this idea and in 1985 he invited me to his home and making use of his station. As he was living rather remote and lacking any local radio amateur community, he was looking forward to spend some time together and talk about our hobby.
I started to prepare my trip to Zaire and was able to negotiate sponsoring from Air Zaire, the national airline. As I could make use of Julian his station I needed only to pack my Bencher paddle and electronic keyer as this was not present at the station. In addition I also packed a Windom FD-4 antenna and a roll of coax. This could maybe help to improve the antenna situation.
In October 1985 I left Amsterdam for a flight to Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire. I was welcomed by Julian at the airport and he made sure that my luggage was ‘guided’ through customs as quickly as possible.
We stayed the night in Kinshasa at a friends house and left early next morning to travel by car to Matadi, a distance of about 400 km over a two lane tarmac road. Matadi is a place at the Zaire river some 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean. After a long drive through a beautiful countryside we arrive at Julians home.
After a good dinner I started to inspect the station that consisted of a Yaesu FT-101ZD and a Heathkit SB200 amplifier. Because Julian used only a simple dipole, I decided to install the Windom FD-4 directly in order to cover all bands from 10-80 meters.
For the next days I operated on all bands and Julian continuously was watching the progress and really enjoyed the big pile ups I was causing. Julian also suggested many other activities such as hunting, safari trips, etc. but told him that I should concentrate on making QSOs. Nevertheless, I went with him on safari for one day and we also visited some interesting sites, including the big hydro electric power plant at the Zaire river and the local market in Matadi.
It was most pleasant to enjoy the great hospitality of the family in this remote area. We had a fantastic BBQ at the last evening and for which they had bought giant prawns from fishing men at the Zaire river.
Zaire with its area of 2,345,000 sqkm is the third largest country of Africa. The country’s size has endowed it with a tremendous variety of assets including vast mineral resources (cobalt, diamonds, copper, tin, gold, manganese and uranium), almost unlimited agricultural potential and abundant wildlife.
There are mountain ranges, equatorial forests, vast plains, highland plateaus and many lakes, rivers and valleys.
The Zaire river, 4200 km long, dominates the country and has the second largest volume of water of any river in the world, being fed alternatively by rains in the Northern and southern hemisphere.
There are between 200 and 250 tribes in Zaire. The five main ethnic groups are: Banthu, Sudanese, Nilotic, Hamite and the Pygmy, a peaceable nomadic forest-dwelling people, easily identifiable by their unique physical features. Traditional Zairean music is basically vocal, but also a large assortment of musical instruments exists, of which the most important is the drum – the source of rhythm.
The ‘telephone drum’ has also been used in Zaire. Modern Zairean music is most popular in Africa. The most famous traditional dance is the ‘bobongo’ of the Konda tribes, but there are many others.
On the left are two examples of the very nice hand-painted QSL cards. After the decoration was completed by the local artist, Julian used stamps for printing his call sign and other text on the cards after which they could be filled out with the contact information.
After Julian had problems with his state side qsl manager, I took over the QSL manager duty after my visit to Zaire. I got the entire logbook and Julian sent me updates by mail. However, after a while I did not receive his logs anymore. When the political situation started to change, I understood he moved to an other area in Zaire, but I have never had the chance to get in contact with him anymore.
I still have the logs of 9Q5MA that covers the period from 29 December 1978 till 22 May 1986 and for which I can confirm contacts with the cards below or occasionally with one of the original cards shown at the left.