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D.R. of Congo: Streamline architecture in Bukavu and getting by in Kinshasa

Kivu Express [Fr] celebrates Bukavu's heritage of architecture from the last days of Art Deco with a series of photographs of buildings around town. They're all slightly mouldy these days, but still remind him of a time when Bukavu was declared “the most beautiful town in Africa”.

Bukavu in more prosperous times

Commenting on the post, a resident of Bukavu in the 50s agrees that it was at least one of the most beautiful towns in Congo, and says the photo above gives a strong impression of what it was like back then.

Don and Marsha of Congo Chatter have a detailed post on ‘how things are sold’ in Kinshasa. Whether you're looking for a European used car, a Coke bottle full of diesel, a walking stick, a football, a 10 cent bag of drinking water, a hard-boiled egg, a bunk-bed or a full sofa suite, it's all right there on the side of the road:

Wanna buy a used car? There aren't more than 4 or 5 car dealerships in Kinshasa, and not one of these has a used car department of any consequence. Most used cars are sold off of “used car lots” along the side of the road. Here's a used car dealership alongside Mulumba Blvd. — each morning about 50 or 60 cars appear alongside the road — there are occasional lookers and buyers, and then at night all the cars get driven somewhere to be stored overnight. Almost all the used cars here come from Europe, and still have their identifying European country sticker on them — “B” for Belgium; “F” for France; “CH” for Switzerland; “D” for Denmark, etc. Someone buys them in Europe and ships them down here. The process of licensing, registering, reporting sales to the government, sales tax — no clue what happens. But the inventory always changes and cars are being sold from under the trees.

Cédric‘s [Fr] neighbour's handyman has invented the most cost-effective automatic closing gate you're likely to find anywhere.

Finally, Le Congo C'est Là [Fr] has a handy guide to identifying ‘un vrai Z’ in the Diaspora (Z for Zaireois, that is). It seems you're a real Z if, among other things:

  • you always dress in flashy colours
  • you keep your D&G label to show its authenticity
  • you always fly with excess baggage but get angry when asked to pay for it…
  • …and you always take some Pondu (Cassava leaves) with you, even though it's sold everywhere these days

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