DR Congo at 50 by Stephan Vanfleteren

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Longin Ngwadi: 'I went to Kinshasa in 1945. I was seventeen at the time. It was three or four days sailing with the post boat. I didn't know anyone when I arrived in Kinshasa, no one at all. A nightwatchman called me in to the property he had to look after. He was someone from my district. I was allowed to sleep on the ground there, in the open air. Shortly after that I got my first job in a general store. I had to sell trousers, shirts, soap, sugar, all kinds of things. I later sold sausages on the street until I was dismissed because I once sold someone some bad liver sausage. Eventually I had the opportunity to go and work as a waiter for the next-to-last governor-general of the Belgian Congo. Five of us had to present ourselves at the 'Maison des Blancs'. That was the place where all of Congo's secrets were kept. The white people met there to govern the Congo. Of the five, I was the most polite and most orderly, so I was allowed to become the governor's personal 'house boy'. I worked for him for four years. I was even able to go with him to Belgium during the world exhibition in Brussels in 1958, by aircraft. But I was unable to see the Atomium because I had to cook and wash in Namur, a city 60 kilometres from Brussels, all the time. I had a very good time in Belgium. I received many gifts there. I was told about the seaport and the trains that disappeared under the ground. Namur was an intelligent city, just like Kikwit.'.