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Postcards from the Congo

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, D.R. of Congo, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Food, Politics

With the elections [1], the run-off announcement, the violent clashes [2] between two presidential candidates, it's easy to focus only the DRC's political tempests. However, many Congo bloggers are writing about art, culture and the more mundane ways that politics affect daily life.


Fred, who blogs at Extra Extra, writes [4] about Misère (above), a Congolese play by Thierry Nlandu inspired by the country's experiences under Mobutu and based on Waiting for Godot.

At Ibiza, a bar popular with expats and Congolese who “can afford $3 for a tonic,” he tries to take the temperature [5] of Kinois (Congolese who call Kinshasa home) following the recent violence:

“Conversation seems an important stress release for many who spent a few days last week stuck at home, listening to explosions, gunfire and the radio, wondering how bad things would get, and wishing they’d stocked more food and drink. It’s not every day that armed conflict arrives in your neighbourhood, after all. The ones who got the biggest frights at least get to tell the best stories.”

I find the atmosphere friendly but the upbeat veneer is a bit strained by anxiety and uncertainty. Very Grahame Greene, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, Kim Gjerstad writes [6] that in the Congo, where books are hard to come by, Réveillez-vous!, the French edition of the Jevohah's Witnesses’ Watchtower [7] – plentiful and, most importantly, free – is a popular read. Gjerstad comes to a cynical conclusion: “Be reminded, Hell exists but it’s never too late to save yourself. The road to heavens is paved with free literature. Not bad of a deal for a country with nothing to read.”

At her Flickr photostream, Helene.rd has a photograph [8] of a local delicacy: “In Isia, some mothers come on board to sell us “palm worms,” taking out chirping caterpillars from their large bowls. Some people who were with us love them. They are full of protein! (Fr)