But after those glory days, Kisangani's reputation took a turn.
On Belgika, Botala and his family watched as the white men loaded their families into a large boat and took off for Kisangani.
Since then, Kisangani has been the epicenter of nearly every rebellion in the Congo.
The city of Stanleyville—now called Kisangani—was a majestic port city as deep as one can go into the Heart of Darkness.
But the sunlight is threatening to fade and a three-and-a-half-hour river journey back to Kisangani looms.
Meanwhile, thousands of refugees were pushed into Kisangani by the advancing rebels.
Since then, conflict has continued to pummel much of the eastern part of the Congo, but Kisangani has remained relatively calm.
More than a thousand residents of Kisangani died in the fighting.
After decades of violence, flights to Kisangani are unpredictable and Western tourists are virtually unheard of.
He speaks while sipping a soda in the restaurant of the Residence Victoria in downtown Kisangani.