The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country four times the size of France. If you want to travel from the capital, Kinshasa, to Kisangani, the third largest city, there is no road. This leaves only plane or boat. A journey of 1, 750 kilometres along the Congo, the biggest river in Africa, but more importantly, one of the most dangerous in the world! The Gbermani provides a regular link between the two cities. Like all the other boats on the river, this one is special; it travels in convoy, pushing barges filled with goods and passengers. It’s not very big but it is fitted with two ultra powerful engines that allow it to push two barges and two whaleboats. It is a veritable floating city. A convoy of 1500 people, left to their own devices, without water, electricity, restaurants, medication or pharmacy. Along the river the buoys and navigation signs have long disappeared. The boat must sail by eye, trusting to an old chart dating back to the Belgian colonisation and the instinct and experience of the captain. And many dangers lie in wait for this boat. There are the water hyacinths, threatening to jam the propeller blades at any moment, mechanical failure—frequent on these old tubs—or sandbanks where the boat may run aground, etc. Aboard the barges, one passenger—a trained nurse—attempts to treat the children and, in particular, a man who has cut open his foot in an accident. She has little in the way of medication and no anaesthetics. Assisted by other passengers, she operates on the man fully conscious in an attempt to save his foot. On the other side of the coin there are some happy events, such as the birth of a child, named Gbermani, after the boat. A two-week long journey that stretches out to more than a month on the river of peril.
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