Very much lost in translation

IT’S a strange experience to travel with a personal interpreter. It’s a luxury, to be sure—one that I had never had before—but perhaps most necessary in the least luxurious settings. I met my interpreter in Baraka, in a town on the western banks of Lake Tanganyika. He’s an English teacher and a radio broadcaster there. His English skills are moderate; his French, excellent. We made do with a broken combination of both.

Tanganyika is beautiful, but South Kivu isn’t quite a tourism hotspot. Racked by conflict and besieged by militias, this small eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced outsized pain. Its recent history has crippled its infrastructure. The province is profoundly underdeveloped: traveling just 50km can take up to five hours via various combinations of 4x4s, motorbikes, and old-fashioned hiking boots. (An unexpected river, too, might block your path.) My colleagues and I went to settlements in South Kivu to research the impact of repeated attacks.


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