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A light in the Congo

Half of Africa is heading for hell, while in the rest life is improving surprisingly fast. Under Laurent Kabila, the new Democratic Republic of Congo could become the continent's dynamic heart

By Richard Dowden   July 1997

When laurent kabila flew into Kinshasa on 20th May he confounded a host of assumptions and predictions, and sealed the biggest change in central Africa for 37 years. His extraordinary past and enigmatic personality have been the subject of much speculation, but more elemental changes will determine the future of the 44m people who live in the new Democratic Republic of Congo.

The myths surrounding the country are numerous. They are triggered by the name Congo itself and its associations with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, VS Naipaul’s Bend in the River and pictures of slaughter from the early 1960s when…

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