Tales from the riverbank: how Kinshasa’s once-mighty port on the Congo is dying

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Widowed, and a mother of ten, Mama Zola sits behind her crate of “made in Angola” beer. She is the doyenne of the Kinshasa port street traders and has worked the same spot since 1989. In those days, she recalls, there would be ships arriving every day: merchandise coming from Angola, or even farther afield, via the ports of Matadi and Boma, then on by train before being loaded on to the boat for Brazzaville, on the opposite side of the river.

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