Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck (Translated by Sam Garrett); Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo by Anjan Sundaram - review by Patrick Marnham

Patrick Marnham

Road to Nowhere

Congo: The Epic History of a People

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Fourth Estate 639pp £25 order from our bookshop

Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo

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Atlantic Books 265pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

Whether the Democratic Republic of Congo should properly be described, even today, as a country is open to question. Most readers probably regard the DRC as a land of exotic disease, extreme poverty, political chaos, massacres, rape and drug-crazed child soldiers. But in an area roughly the size of Western Europe, where there is no national road or rail system, there are many levels of daily reality. And if you say ‘war’ in the streets of Kinshasa, the capital city, the people are quite likely to hear ‘beer’ and expect the latest news of a different battle.

The years between 2005 and 2009 were notable in Kinshasa for a bitter struggle between Heineken and Skol. In the competition for market share these rival breweries enlisted leading pop musicians – J B Mpiana versus Werrason. The duel was fought out face to face on podiums erected at opposite

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