KINSHASA the beautiful (La belle) to Poubelle (garbage pail)

This place, one of the most beautiful cities of Africa in the 70's, Kinshasa, has been converted into an enormous "poubelle." The slow disintegration of the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko up until the time he was forced out of power in 1997—and the subsequent wars, have taken the capital of one-time Zaire, and its unfortunate inhabitants, into a situation of almost endless deterioration.

These images give some small idea of the pitiful state of a city which, although it still has some streets and some central buildings in more or less decent condition, extends its ruin, of both old buildings and new, for hundreds of square kilometers.

In this small sample we can see, frozen in time, some of the images of tourist-centered districts, popular or clearly factitious like Matete, Ngiri ngiri, Matonge or Kisenso. To this last belong the three photos in which one can see the future of the country: the children.

Kisenso-Mama Leonor.jpg (78832 bytes)

Kinshasa: text and photos by  Pepe Saldaņa