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Wednesday, September 1st 2021, 6:37pm

29 January

A special Normandie flight left Bangui, a dozen armed guards and one important prisoner.
Barthélemy Boganda was on a long flight. Deemed too much of a security risk for interrogation in Bangui where rebel sympathisers might attempt a jailbreak operation, he was whisked back to the Netherlands secretly, to be interrogated by KIS.

The situation in Bangassou was more or less under control, bands of rebels were fleeing south or east under pursuit. Alindao was still under siege by Dutch forces and it was stubborn work to prise the defenders from building to building, mud hut to mud hut.
Trouble flared in Ndele in the far north, a demonstration that briefly got out of hand before the cavalry troops waded in with big sticks and broke up the crowds. In Bozoum in Ouham-Pende Province the police station was attacked with petrol bombs but no serious damage caused. Isolated events could be contained, hopefully.

Further south, talks dragged on. Proposals and counter-proposals, denials and counter-denials, even non-denial denials. It wasn't always clear who was stalling for time, neither side seemed eager to reach a settlement, although with N'Dofa increasingly looking like a dead duck, the Baron was shifting support away from him. He was happy that he had kept Limbani alive, he was a good bargaining chip. The Baron wasn't aware that Barthélemy Boganda knew of this part of the plot, if he had he might have been more worried that 'The Priest' had disappeared, presumed dead or captured.


Thursday, September 2nd 2021, 3:56pm

1 February

A black Minerva saloon had driven up the long driveway to the secluded country house. A man had been bundled round the back entrance with a raincoat over his head.

Soon the interrogation would start in earnest.

"Where am I? Why have you brought me here?" Boganda demanded.
"You know why you are here, we want some information," the man in a dark suit sitting on the edge of the desk stubbed out his cigarette.
"I won't tell you anything, God will preserve my faith and strength," Boganda defiantly asserted.

The man shrugged and opened the man's file, "You will talk, they all talk in the end. You will save us all a lot of trouble by answering our questions and telling us what we want to know now."
Boganda let out a loud snort, "I am a Priest, you dare not touch me, nothing you can say or do can break me."
"Who do you think you're dealing with? Some mad, sadistic moron who has power to play with flesh and blood for his own lust? I was a doctor, before ever I was a lawyer. Your body is sacred to me."
Boganda laughed, "no drugs... no torture... what can you hope for?"
"Conversion. It's your mind we want."
"For the first time since I've come into your prison - I'm afraid."

"You're an enemy of society, like the schizophrenic, or the paranoiac," the man continued as he moved to sit behind the desk, "You're dangerous, because you mislead the poor, the uneducated, the silly. Only because you're wrongheaded. In time, we'll get to the root of the trouble. And you can be cured."
"You believe it?"
"Yes, I do believe it," the suited man replied.
"God give me cunning against your skill."


Thursday, September 2nd 2021, 7:38pm

This plot is taking a very interesting twist.


Saturday, September 11th 2021, 12:31pm

Matadi: The Dutch Enclave

Baron Owija's seizure of power and declaration of independence from Dutch rule relied on the power of the largely local Kongolese Army and Air Force units, which although under nominal command from the Dutch General Staff, was still very much attached to its roots as locally-formed units.
However, the Dutch had one force that could not be controlled, the Royal Netherlands Navy had its Kongo Station at Matadi, the major port in the Kongo. Consisting of two cruisers, seven frigates, six minesweepers, four gunboats, a dozen MTBs, ten landing craft and a tanker and seaplane tender as well as tugs, this fleet was sizable and provided a pool of loyal manpower.

Early on in the unrest that occurred, the Admiraal of the Suriname and Kongo Fleets (Atlantic Fleet), Vice-Admiraal Lodewijk van Kinsbergen, was ordered to secure the naval installation. Over the coming days the military harbour was sealed off and within a week Dutch Marines and sailors had secured almost all of the port facilities in Matadi. The Army of the Kongo actually had very few troops in Matadi, Dutch defence planning had entrusted the defence to the Navy. So it was that gradually the main military power subsumed parts of the city.

Given the tense political situation van Kinsbergen was under strict orders not to interfere with the local political administration of the city. The local Baron of the Batukezanga clan was pro-Dutch and gave little trouble. A tense calm lay over the city. A few hundred refugees clamoured to be let into the harbour under Dutch protection. Internally a power struggle was attempting to oust Baron Batukezanga and the Mayor, who owed his patronage to the Baron. But the Dutch had a powerful lever for the discussions with the new regime. Matadi offered the only harbour for international trade, all major imports flowed through the port and the Dutch could shut off the supply line with ease.

Baron Owija drew up plans to storm the harbour if necessary but Chief of Staff Generaal Kabanda and the Inspector Generaal, Generaal Mertens, were not entirely happy, given the Navy had tremendous firepower in its ships laying at anchor. For the time being they sweetened the Dutch and kept the harbour open but the negotiators in Pretoria knew they had a grip on a jugular, applying it was to risk some starvation and potentially lose of any public support within the Kongo but politically it was a heavy weight on Owija's shoulders.


Saturday, September 11th 2021, 1:03pm

Indeed. Something that someone had overlooked in their coup planning. A very interesting development.


Sunday, September 12th 2021, 5:24pm

3 February

The rumble of heavy engines and the metallic clanking of tracks filled the air as the Lt-33 tanks passed through Alindao. Finally the town had been taken, at the end tanks and 105mm guns had to fire at almost point-blank range to blast the defenders out of their defensive positions. It had been a bloody fight and as the few prisoners began to dig a big mass grave for their former comrades the Dutch infantry and tankers headed south in hot pursuit of the rebels. was still under siege by Dutch forces and it was stubborn work to prise the defenders from building to building, mud hut to mud hut.

The plan to drop a company of paratroops in Mobaye to secure the border were finally abandoned, there was little means to emplane the paras at Alindao and trucking them to a suitable place would take even more time. Instead four Koolhoven FK.65s dropped a platoon into the town to augment the police forces there. Reports of large rebel forces nearby waiting to cross over into the Kongo were disturbing but little could be done. The one good move was that rebel concentrations in open ground were now firmly on the Air Force bombing list. 55 Afdeling with its Fokker G-2C ground-attack aircraft and 6u Afdeling, with Loire-Nieuport Épouvantail O-2s began scouring the land around, anything suspiciously like an encampment was fair game for strafing and bombing.

Meanwhile back at the Chateau...
"Where is Limbani?"
"I don't know."
"I think you do know, is he where N'Dofa is?"
"I don't know."
"Make an intelligent guess."
"I've told you I know nothing and even if I did I would never tell you."
"Limbani is good man they say, a good Christian, a man who believes in the destiny of Africans to rule Africa, surely a man like that would be on your side?"
"He is a fool, he thinks he can beg power from you. But power can only be taken from the oppressor."
"Is that why N'Dofa and the Baron cooked up this plot?"
"I know nothing about that."
"Surely being a Priest I would have thought that you would have subscribed to Limbani's view, after all God gives forgiveness on his terms, man cannot take his power. And how can a man of the cloth preach others to do violence when God only desires man to live in peace and to be good to his neighbours? How do you face your conscience when you are alone?"
"Don't speak rubbish man. You are as naïve as a child!"
"How do you face your conscience when you are alone Barthélemy? If we left you in a cell now for a month, would you be able to look yourself in the face?"
"How are you doing this to me?"
"Well, it's funny, you know. The more store a man sets by his wits, the sooner he loses them. When a man starts watching his mind at work, you can't leave him alone for five minutes without he frightens himself to death."


Wednesday, September 15th 2021, 10:36am

Catching up with domestic news.

14 January
The Noordstar-Boerhaave Prize has been awarded to Fleming Arthur Meulemans, composer of operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano works and songs.

22 January
A new film production company, Perfini (Perusahaan Film Nasional Indonesia, Indonesia National Film Company) opened its studio in Batavia today. It has employed the director Usmar Ismail, who is directing its first film, Darah dan Doa (Blood and Prayer), for which financial backing is being sought.

15 January
Signs of increasing investment in the Kongo despite recent political uncertainty were evident today as the Algemeen Malta Forrest Company turned over the first soil to begin the mining and civil engineering works required to open the new manganese mine at Kisenge. The company also has plans to broaden its activities into public works and civil engineering projects in the mining city of Kolwez and other areas in the western Katanga copper belt.

19 January
The prototype Koolhoven/ SABCA F.K.63 two-seat night-fighter made its maiden flight today. The F.K.63 was designed to meet a joint Belgo-Dutch requirement for a jet-powered night fighter equipped with radio-location and armament suitable to destroy heavy bombers. The F.K.63 was designed jointly by Koolhoven and SABCA, the Belgian firm also building the wings and responsible for final assembly for Belgian aircraft. A Phillips air-air Radio-Location set is fitted in the nose, but not in the first prototype. It is powered by two 6,500lb EHRW.04 LMF Xhosa III turbojets. Two other prototypes are almost complete with another two under construction. Current plans are for service entry in late 1952. Armament consists of a six 23mm GAST cannon in a ventral pack. The estimated performance is; 888 km/h (552 mph) maximum speed, 44.5 m/s (8,750 ft/min) rate of climb, 13,700 m (45,000 ft) service ceiling and a maximum range of 3,200 km (2,000 miles)

4 February
The independent publishing house Uitgeverij Holland has launched a new poetry book series called De Windroos.


Friday, September 17th 2021, 12:29pm

6 February
The pressure of the blast blew him off his feet, bundling him into the ditch as the heat of the flame crept up his neck. The sound and concussion deafened him, the world whirled by in slow motion, pieces of mud brick and timber flying through the air with him. The ground coming up to meet him. N'Dofa couldn't believe it had come to this.

Memories of former Tweede-Luitenant Anton Flinders who served with 55 Afdeling, Ubangi Shari
One of my senior pilots Meertens shouted out he had a camp in his sights and his wingman followed him. Moments later we heard him shout "Eggs!" so we knew he had dropped his bombs. I led my formation of four Fokkers to the east to give us some protection from higher ground on our escape route. I asked them if they were prepared to follow me and they all answered "Yes!" We flew a zigzag pattern to avoid the gunfire now aimed at us. I lined up on the encampment, chopping the throttle at the last moment to reduce speed I began sizing the tents up in my gunsight. We kept on at 100 feet and once I dropped my bombs it seemed too high for comfort so I rolled inverted to descend faster and rolled out at around 30 feet! I made a tight turn to port and to get back out of the area and found a gaggle of trucks in front of me and I opened fire with my cannon, watching them explode into flames. We managed to get back along the ridgeline and using hand signals managed to regroup with four of the squadron. We were able to relax and think logically about our attack. While I did not see the results of my attack Lecon behind me clamed my bombs hit the middle of the camp and a few of the other pilots thought they had scored direct hits too.

8 February
Stoottroepen! A History of Dutch Airborne Operations, University of Utrecht Press, 1989
The Battle of Mobaye would go down in Dutch paratrooper history as the easiest victory in their history. Eight men of 'C' Platoon, 1e Company, 2e Battalion of the 1e Parachute Fusilier Regiment had been dropped by Koolhoven aircraft on the outskirts of town on the 4th. They were met by the local people and guided into town, arriving at the police station where the men there had kept most of the town free of rebel troops. By the 6th the fleeing rebels from Alindao had arrived, at least a hundred troops streaming into town on foot or on stolen bicycles.

The eight Paras alone seemed a small force to check this mass of rebels but they occupied both sides of the main highway. Tweede-Luitenant Werner shouted out to the rebels in sight to surrender. They sent a volley of rifle fire towards him as a reply. Shortly after the Paras opened fire from their concealed positions, about ten rebels were cut down in a hail of bullets on the road and twenty more reverse course and ran back up the road. They tried bypassing the Dutch positions on the left but Sergeant de Klerk with his SLR managed to hit three rebels and keep the remainder with their heads down. Faced with such losses the rebels soon waved a dirty white shirt in surrender and in short order 56 men walked in, tossing their rifles aside.
The words uttered to a stunned police Captain when de Klerk led his prize back to the police station entered the unit's folklore, "Sorry about this, I think you might need a new prison Sir."

The flow of rebels across the border had been stemmed but the appearance of Kongolese troops just across the border was disquieting. Would they intervene to protecting the fleeing rebels?

10 February
Tempers were flaring in the room.
"The longer you stall the more likely your countrymen and women will feel the heel of our boot on their colonialist backs! You have a clear choice, agree to our terms."
The negotiator smiled, "Sure. I just told my boss."
The man looked puzzled.
"He said ok," the negotiator continued, "but first radio Admiraal van Kinsbergen and tell him to sever all transport coming into the port and level the town with his cannon."
The man looked uneasy.
"You ever try to blackmail us again and we'll send that order and don't think we won't."

Meanwhile back at the Chateau...
"Where is Limbani?"
"I don't know."
"You do know."
"I don't know."
"Did you ever steal anything?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Did you preach forgiveness up there in your fine pulpit, forgiveness for those who stole?"
"Of course."
"Didn't they have to give back what they'd stolen?"
"How can you give back honour?"
"You thought you could win your own honour by deceiving the people."
"No, its not true."
"All those lies you told in the pulpit, you know Limbani will expose your lies, is that why you won't talk? Why you won't face your treachery?"
"Stop it. Yes I stole when I was a young man, it was steal or starve. But that was long before I ever entered the church. Anyway, there was no need to judge those who stole to survive or to look them in the eyes."
"Couldn't you look them in the eyes as they came to you for forgiveness and you gave them more more heretical crimes to listen to in your sermons instead? Don't be ashamed of thieving from a man who thieved every day of his life. Is that what you told them?"
"You fake! The hero of the rebels who outwitted the Dutch for his own vanity. The martyr for the Church whose only resistance is for his own pride. His Eminence, the Priest, who could steal the estimation of the world to justify a miserable little tyke of a backstreet thief!"
"Whose idea was it to kidnap Limbani? Yours?"
"Where is Limbani?"
"Stop it, I don't know, he never told me. N'Dofa was afraid they might keep him as blackmail."
"Who might keep him?"
"The Baron of course. They threatened to set him free if he didn't meet his end of the bargain."
"The dogs," he laughs, "so the deceiver was deceived, how ironic."


Friday, September 24th 2021, 4:07pm

12 February

For Baron Owija the failure of N’Dofa’s revolution was a bitter blow.
“That fool promised me he had the situation covered, that he had a conspiracy planned and the men in place and the resources to back it up!” he fumed to his aide.
His aide knew this was unfair, N’Dofa had relied on the Baron’s money and influence to get things kickstarted. But there was no doubting that losing the north to Dutch platform meant that there was still a local platform for them to strike south.
“Now I am lumbered with Limbani on my hands, luckily he doesn’t know I was involved and he might still prove very useful, he might just be the thing to break the deadlock with the stubborn Dutch who talk and talk!” he fumed.

Already a diplomatic note from the Dutch complained that N’Dofa’s troops were fleeing across the border to sanctuary. The Baron knew Dutch forces were still too weak to risk crossing the border against the Kongolese Army, but even then he doubts that ‘his’ Army might not swap sides. Things were getting complicated and unrest in the cities was growing.

In London the SIS had passed some local intelligence to KIS, being careful not to reveal too much about their networks inside the country. KIS had their own internal informers, indeed Kongolese Army direction-finders were on the lookout for illegal transmitters, two agents had already gone silent but enough remained to salvage some useful information and to use the agents to stir some agitation in subtle ways.


Friday, September 24th 2021, 5:48pm

Even at ten knots it's only a twenty-one day voyage from Amsterdam to Matadi; it could be a real possibility that a convoy of reinforcements could be right over the horizon. The Baron may have 'missed the 'bus"!


Sunday, September 26th 2021, 11:45am

15 February

Vice-Admiraal Lodewijk van Kinsbergen, aboard his flagship HNLMS Suriname received the message from the bridge that the cruiser Terschelling and the seaplane tender Venus had arrived from Paramaribo. He nodded in acknowledgement and headed out from his sea cabin to the bridge to see for himself.
van Kinsbergen had requested support but made it clear to the Navy Ministry that he wanted larger ships and not more smaller gunboats. He was worried about congestion at the harbour and possible dangers of attack so kept about a third of his ships offshore in rotation. He hoped having another cruiser would signal his intent to the Baron that he meant business. The Venus would provide increased aerial cover for his force.
The home navy had sent him a battalion of Marines aboard the HNLMS Rotterdam which was heading to him along with two destroyers and a tanker. The latest signal estimated they would arrive in two days time.

The Baron was no less worried about the situation at Matadi. He had called Chief of Staff Generaal Kabanda into his office, demanding action.
"Any frontal assault would be bloody they have control of most of the town and have ample heavy guns for support," he explained.
The Baron scoffed, "we have big guns too and aircraft, ships can be bombed and sunk General, maybe the real problem is that the Army is scared of a bunch of sailors?"
The General held his tongue, "we have sent a battalion to the town and they have taken up positions around the town."
The Baron slammed his fist, "that's not enough, I want a division there. This is where the decisive action will take place should talks break down. We must be ready to storm the port. Have more troops sent to Boma, then we can cut off the channel to Matadi"
The General nodded "we have moved three batteries to Boma this week, I shall order the 1e Brigade to send further reinforcements to Matadi at once Sir."


Sunday, September 26th 2021, 1:12pm

Why do I suspect that stuff is about to strike the rotating oscillator?


Saturday, October 2nd 2021, 10:36am

The bedraggled man slumped into the chair, his uniform dusty and crumpled, the man looked tired and had that hunted expression on his face.

"Look at you, you come crawling back here asking for more help? You failed me N'Dofa, you lied to me and failed me."
N'Dofa shrugged his shoulders, "we came close, the Dutch were weak but they reacted quicker than we thought capable, and some of the scum in the capital failed to come over to our side as they promised they would. Maybe if you hadn't insisted on getting Limbani out of the way they might not have felt so squeamish."
The Baron leaned back in his chair, "it was you who suggested it, I went to a lot of trouble to organise the set up, a lot of time and money and I have no secure northern flank, the Dutch breathing down my neck, threatening blockade, the people getting uppity and now you to deal with. What do you expect me to do? Attack the Dutch?"
N'Dofa gripped the arms of the chair, "it wouldn't be a bad idea, while we have been fighting and dying for our cause you have been sitting around in that leather chair smoking cigars and playing the big boss man. You've had it pretty cushy around here."
The Baron laughed, "well I do think things through and act smart."
"Yes, so smart you are besieged and the Dutch don't seem keen to meet your demands."
The Baron waved his hand dismissively, "they will deal, I hold two cards in the pack."
N'Dofa sat up, "what cards? You can't bluff you way out of this."
"I have Limbani, I could easily hand him over to the Dutch... and now I have you...."

N'Dofa's mind raced, the Baron was trying to trick him, he had to think quick.
"You wouldn't dare hand me over the Dutch, I might talk and it would be a death sentence for you too, I might kill you myself you miserable worm."
He pulled out a hidden Browning automatic and waved it in the direction of the Baron, "I suggest you make other plans pretty quickly Baron."
N'Dofa got up slowly, yanking out the telephone cable before backing up towards to the door.
"Do you think you can get out of here? Even if you could you can't escape the country."
N'Dofa reached the door, "when I get time I'll grow a beard and buy myself some sunglasses Baron, but don't worry you'll be hearing from me soon. Very soon old friend."
He slipped through the door and was gone. The Baron dashed up to raise the alarm but the General was gone.


The sign read 'De mariniers zijn er - kijk uit!' [The Marines are here - watch out!].
It didn't amuse van Kinsbergen when he saw it, but it was good that the men were in such high spirits. Reports of more troops entering Boma was worrying. He had a couple of Puttens there as gunboats but it was impossible for them to do much on their own. Did he dare send some Marines there and risk escalation? He decided to send the frigate S38 to bolster the port defences there, hopefully it would send the right messages.
The locals were restive, some wanted the Dutch to stay, others loathed their military presence, a spark could start a riot or worse. He hoped that his paymasters and superiors knew what they were doing.

The British had sent the sloop HMS Dovey to protect British lives and property, he hoped they would keep out of it, if every nation sent warships it might not only complicate matters but if shooting started he didn't want any additional ships to be responsible for. If he was fighting at sea he would have no qualms but being up a large estuary and easily cut off was making him increasingly nervous.


Saturday, October 2nd 2021, 1:12pm

So N'Dofa slips away again! A cat has nine lives - how many has the general used up?


Sunday, October 3rd 2021, 4:41pm

28 February

The Dutch Army approached the outskirts of Mbki as the drove down the main route east towards the Sudan. The large town of Obo lay beyond. This was rumoured to be a hotbed of rebels but since rumours of N'Dofa's escape and the disappearance of 'The Priest' the rebel forces had either melted away or surrendered. Across the border British troops were patrolling the border and arresting any rebels who attempted to flee, the majority however felt safer heading south to the Kongo. A few bands of hotheads still wanted to fight on and sporadic firefights slowed the advance by road but the Dutch authorities felt confident that law and order would soon be restored.

A couple of hundred miles away in a remote compound four armed soldiers burst into a cell, the metal door clanging open and the men entering the room.
The man laid on the bed blinked and looked up at his visitors brandishing their guns.
"Have you come to kill me at last?" asked Limbani.
One of the troops moved forward, "Are you Julius Limbani?"
Limbani nodded weakly.
"Sir, we have come to rescue you and get you out of here."

A few hundred more miles away the Baron was on the telephone.
"We have found Limbani, he is unharmed, the Army was able to follow up a lead and release him. He is currently in a local hospital for checks before we bring him to the capital. I trust you will be satisfied and will gladly send him home when he can travel.... Sadly the rebels who were hiding him fled... I'll check but I think you'll agree it was N'Dofa's men who kidnapped him and tried to murder me in Lagos... I hope to resolve all these differences in good time."

A few thousand miles away the King was not so easily taken in.
"It would seem strange these men holding Limbani have vanished, how could N'Dofa's men have remained so hidden for so long without the Baron knowing? I suspect those men who saved Limbani were those same guards."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Dirk Stikker nodded, "I agree your Majesty, it sounds like a power struggle and with N'Dofa's defeat Owija has decided to use the pawn he was holding all this time. I doubt he will let Limbani leave until we reach an agreement with him to hand over constitutional power."
The King paced the room, "Hmmm, it will be hard to fight such propaganda from the Kongolese and handing Limbani over would prove their good intentions and if we refused to talk it would look like sour grapes."
Stikker thought a moment, "I would not worry your Majesty, Limbani is no fool, he may have already realised the truth of who was holding him prisoner and once we have him safe he would make a useful source of our own propaganda."


Thursday, October 7th 2021, 11:59am

The return of Limbani into the public sphere was a chance from Baron Owija to whitewash his involvement in his kidnapping. Copious documents that seemed to point towards the previous government’s complicity in the kidnap plot and attempt on the Baron’s life were splashed across the headlines of most of the Kongolese newspapers.

Those same documents were passed in full to the Dutch delegation in Pretoria as evidence of the new government’s correct action in seizing power and releasing Limbani. The Dutch however were incredulous of these claims. The ex-Prime Minister was due for trial for these crimes according to the Kongolese negotiators. The Dutch demanded that he should be handed over to them for trial. This was refused as it was claimed to be a domestic matter, the Dutch countered that if the Prime Minister had abused his position in this way then he would have broken Dutch law at that time and therefore they would have legal jurisdiction in this matter. Talks stalled and broke down. For the Dutch there was no question that Owija was in collusion with N’Dofa, Boganda's testimony was evidence enough of that.

The one man who could clear this up was Limbani himself. He had been moved to the Central District Hospital in the capital for further checks. Apart from throngs of pressmen at the entrance as he was taken inside, no interviews had been allowed. The Dutch naturally pressed for his return to Ubangi-Shari as soon as possible, the Kongolese negotiators said this would happen once he was certified fit to travel. The Dutch pressed harder and two Dutch doctors living in the capital were allowed to examine him and felt he was well enough to travel. A KLM airliner was on standby in Ubangi Shari to fly him home. It is possible that the KIS made plans to snatch him from the hospital at this time, certainly several teams of operatives were active in the capital at this time, some of them connected with the shadowy Operation Mongoose. The Dutch made it clear that any hindrance to his safe return would mean the end of negotiations and a harder line on any future talks.

Of N’Dofa himself little was known, the Kongolese promised to hand him over if he was caught, but the rebel soldiers who had fled across the border had not so far been returned. Again the Kongolese dragged their heels until certain conditions were met, namely transfer of constitutional power to them. The impasse was a waste for both sides, all the while Dutch strength was gathering and the danger to the maritime supply lines was growing, even the South Africans were becoming exasperated at the slow progress and hoping that they would not need to take sides if talks broke down.
The Dutch decided to play their card, public release that Boganda had been captured and would face prosecution for treason. They hoped his testimony would prove fatally damaging to that of Owija's, especially if Limbani's testimony was added.