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Out of Africa

Kinshasa's general hospital has stood through revolution, civil war and civic breakdown. It is a touchstone of change in the Democratic Republic of Congo

By Richard Dowden   April 2006

Kinshasa’s hospital The general hospital in Kinshasa has been a touchstone of change in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. A colonial relic, its single-storey brick blocks, corrugated iron roofs, courtyards and covered walkways have somehow survived in the centre of town. During Belgian colonial times, the hospital was for blacks only. Then President Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled from 1965 to 1997, renamed it after his mother, Mama Yemo. He had a bust of her erected by the entrance. But he clearly forgot his mother in later years. The hospital fell into ruin: the roofs leaked, the…

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