Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
“The village where dozens of young girls have been raped is still waiting for justice” by Lauren Wolfe, The Guardian
In the past three years, Kavumu, in eastern Congo, has been torn apart by a series of horrific attacks. Will the perpetrators ever answer for their crimes?
The girls will reach puberty before they and their families know the extent of the physical and psychological harm done to them. “We don’t know if they will have sex normally because of fibrosis,” the girls’ doctor, Dr Neema Rukunghu (known to all as Dr Nene), said, “Because of destruction of the cervix, we don’t know if they will bleed normally or have babies. We don’t know.”
For the Kavumu families caring for their “ruined” (as they put it) daughters, every day that passed brought new terrors. “We don’t know who will be the next child visited by the rapist,” one mother said. (The families asked that I not use their names in order to protect them from retribution.) They had gathered in a sweaty, dim room and crammed on to benches, chairs and the floor in order to tell their stories and talk about their fear.
“Now,” the mother said, “we no longer sleep.”
“An Isolated Tribe Emerges from the Rainforest” by Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker
In Peru, an unsolved killing has brought the Mashco Piro into contact with the outside world.
Before Nicolás (Shaco) Flores was killed, deep in the Peruvian rain forest, he had spent decades reaching out to the mysterious people called the Mashco Piro. Flores lived in the Madre de Dios region—a vast jungle surrounded by an even vaster wilderness, frequented mostly by illegal loggers, miners, narco-traffickers, and a few adventurers. For more than a hundred years, the Mashco had lived in almost complete isolation; there were rare sightings, but they were often indistinguishable from backwoods folklore.
Flores, a farmer and a river guide, was a self-appointed conduit between the Mashco and the region’s other indigenous people, who lived mostly in riverside villages. He provided them with food and machetes, and tried to lure them out of the forest. But in 2011, for unclear reasons, the relationship broke down; one afternoon, when the Mashco appeared on the riverbank and beckoned to Shaco, he ignored them. A week later, as he tended his vegetable patch, a bamboo arrow flew out of the forest, piercing his heart. In Peru’s urban centers, the incident generated lurid news stories about savage natives attacking peaceable settlers. After a few days, though, the attention subsided, and life in the Amazonian backwater returned to its usual obscurity.
“‘I Have No Choice but to Keep Looking’” by Jennifer Percy, New York Times Magazine
Five years after the tsunami that killed tens of thousands in Japan, a husband still searches the sea for his wife, joined by a father hoping to find his daughter.
On the first dive, Takamatsu took a boat out to sea. He was scared. The water wasn’t clear, and he knew that below the surface, there were dangers — he could get caught by a rope or cut by debris. A flipper might hit his head and flood his mask. The regulator might not work. He might panic. He could die of hypothermia, entanglement, the bends.
For his first dive, he reached a depth of 16 feet. He had expected silence, but the ocean had a sound. Takamatsu called it chirichiri — the sound of hair burning or a snake hissing. Takahashi instructed him not to touch the bottom with his hands or fins because he might kick up a disorienting cloud of sand. Takamatsu kept his head down and flippers up.
“The Pop Star Of Jihad” by Amos Barshad, Fader
The strange tale of Deso Dogg, the German rapper who fled to Syria to sing songs for ISIS.
Though he left rap, Cuspert never abandoned music. He began instead singing songs in praise of the international jihad, what jihadists refer to as nasheeds. Traditionally, nasheeds are songs of uplift, mostly a cappella, about Islam, its practices, and its history. But these were songs about fighters-in-arms, about explosions, about mass murder. In one, a German-language adaptation of a jihadist anthem called “Qariban Qariba,” Cuspert declared, Enemies of Allah, we want your blood/ It tastes so wonderful.
After leaving Germany, he reimagined himself with a new name. He was now Abu Talha al-Almani — Abu Talha the German. Thanks to Junud al-Sham and Islamic State videos, he became possibly the most prominent black man within jihadist ranks in Iraq and Syria. He was an ex-gangster rapper on the front lines, cheating death, singing songs of war. In videos, he was seen marching through the bloodied and at times decapitated victims of his fellow fighters; his job was to praise the massacring, and he took to it with fervor.
“Killing Fields in the Egyptian Desert” by Tom Stevenson, Foreign Policy
Eight vacationing Mexican tourists and four tour guides were gunned down — out of the blue — by Egyptian military aircraft. What happened?
For the Mexican tourists, it was supposed to be two weeks of sightseeing, adventure, and mild spiritualism. The 16 tourists had arrived together on Sept. 11, picked up at Cairo International Airport at 1:30 p.m., and taken in a 23-seat Toyota Coaster minibus to the Movenpick hotel, which sits just opposite the Great Pyramid of Giza. They stayed the night at the Movenpick and spent the following day visiting the pyramids and Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili market, the most famous in the city. They then spent another night at the Movenpick before waking up early on the morning of Sept. 13, knowing a long journey was ahead of them.
Windows of Egypt, a well-regarded firm offering Nile cruises, temple visits, and seven-day camel trekking tours of the desert led the tour. Nabil El Tamawi, an experienced guide who spoke fluent Spanish and had worked with tour groups in Egypt for 25 years was the head guide. The tourists had been gathered together by Rafael Berjerano, a 41-year-old spiritual healer and musician, and his mother Marisela Rangel Ravalos, both of whom had visited Egypt on similar tours before.
Photo credit: PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images; Jose Caldas/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images; TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images; HENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty Images; MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images; HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images