Kinshasa is the centre of Congolese cultural life and politics. Its glitzy hotels and restaurants are where the money looted from the rest of the country is spent. It boasts grandiose architecture (including an enormous Chinese-built parliament) and some of the best-dressed people in the world (known as sapeurs, or members of the Society for the Advancement of Elegant People). It is also filthy and lawless. The buses are known as “spirits of death”. The potholes are the size of buses. Traffic is regulated by gun-toting cops who will happily pull a motorist out of his car and beat him up in broad daylight.
The city is one of the least connected in the world. The airport on the English channel island of Guernsey, with a population of 63,000, handles more passengers than Kinshasa’s. Perhaps one in 20 Kinois has a formal job. Nonetheless they pay dearly to live in the metropolis. A room in a slum, without dependable electricity or clean water, can go for $100 a month.
That is from The Economist, the whole article is superb, one of the best I have read this year, with virtually every paragraph full of interesting points. Don’t forget that the Congo War(s) of 1998-2003 were the bloodiest since the Second World War.