The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a reputation, and it’s not a good one. The region was colonised by the Belgians then ruled by the infamous King Leopold in the late 19th century, when the local population was used as slave labour for rubber production. Independence in 1960 left the country riven with tribal conflicts, which a series of corrupt leaders were unable to quell. Then the war in neighbouring Rwanda in the early Nineties spilt over the border and sparked a war in DRC that has never really ended. To this day, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice is not to travel to the east, which includes the Rwandan border. But I’m going to let you into a secret. I have just come back from the country alive and well, with only one thing damaged: my perception of the place. Although I have been travelling to the African continent for nigh on 30 years, have witnessed the poverty, deprivation, and environmental degradation that goes hand in hand with its wondrous landscapes, its wildlife, its cultural richness, visiting the DRC always seemed slightly beyond my capabilities; just too dangerous. I was mildly obsessed with the country – but a… Read full this story
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