Raissa Malu

Oh Kinshasa !

Going around Kinshasa allows you to (re)discover its wonders.

Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, may be my city, but I know it so badly. On this subject, I am always amused by the astonishment and despair I arouse in my interlocutors who, in order to give me an address, give me references that are generally nothing to me! Because that's the way it is here, we don't give you an address with a street and a number, but a reference (a building, a stop, etc.) close to the place and supposedly known by everyone (except by me). The excuse I give then, laughing, is that "distraction is a family matter!" 😉

This ignorance (or amnesia) allows me, when I am mentally ready, to look at these streets, buildings, places and landscapes supposedly known, eyes filled with amazement and wonder. I then try to remember what it looked like when I was a little girl and I was driving down those streets in the back of the car, my father or mother behind the wheel.

A city full of mounts

This is what happened to me this morning when I was visiting the building sites of the scientific laboratories that the project I lead is renovating in 5 schools in the city. For those who know Kinshasa, I was heading for Mount Galiema. Kinshasa is a city dotted with mounts (don't ask me how many): Mont-Amba, Mont-Ngaliema, etc.

The day before, I was in the plain, in Lemba, and the visit had gone badly. The day was rainy and the streets were dirty. Worse still, the construction sites of the schools visited were not at the stage where they should have been according to schedule. I was not in the state of mind to appreciate my environment.

Fortunately, we passed through the Lime Exchange the emblematic Monument of Kinshasa (with the Rolling Robot, the People's Palace and the Martyrs' Stadium). I really like this building, even in its current condition. Its sight gives me comfort like a lighthouse in the night.


(photo : Mr Kabwende)


CHANIC quarter

This morning, for my second day of site visit, on my way to Mont-Ngaliema, we visited the site of this jewel of the Congolese economy (at least at the time, I don't know if it's still the case today): the CHANIC company, specialized in metal constructions with its symbol, the famous elephant with tusks.



You know, you have to leave the main streets to find masterpieces. Thus, at the bend of an inner street, we came across the first chapel of Leopoldville (former name of Kinshasa) built in 1891 (in the 19th century)!



Facing this small chapel, there is what I imagine to be an official residence, probably of the administrators of the CHANIC society, in a style of the colonial era with a garden and trees probably centenary, a jewel! There was a beautiful sunshine and the colours were shimmering. We had the impression that nature and buildings wanted to tell us a story, another story.



Brazzaville, across the river

But we quickly passed, and fifty meters farther, we came back to this well-known reality of Kinshasa, the onlookers, the dirt, the misery... We continued the road along for a short moment the Majestic Congo River. When you look across the river to Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo (yes, Kinshasa and Brazzaville are the two closest capitals in the world), you are surprised that it is another country. At that moment, we think back to the story that the place we had just crossed would have wanted to tell us.

With my nose stuck to the window, the car turned left to start the climb along the site of the Théâtre des Verdures. What a beautiful place! Looking at it through the grid, one cannot help but think of the glorious days of Zaire with Marshal Mobutu. As we pass in front of the OAU City, I think about the current President Félix Tshisekedi. It's insane how past and present coexist in these places!

Works in progress

And then, once again, we fall back into the mass, into the crowd and the joyful disorder of an African city of more than 10 million inhabitants. Finally, we arrived at school and then, hallelujah, the building of the two scientific laboratories is finished (I still discovered a problem, there is always a detail that goes wrong. Sigh). But the company has done a good job. They will even finish the library we obtained for the school on time. What more could we ask for? 😊

We went down, I visited the other school and went back to the office with a worried mind about solving the problem. I wasn't really looking at the landscape anymore. I didn't see the wonders anymore. I had returned to the harsh reality of life. But when I arrived at the office, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my Kinshasa, this city that is scary, but also inspires hope. A city where, as they say here, anything is possible!

P.S.: If there are inaccuracies in this text about Kinshasa, they come from me, it's quite normal! It's the Kinshasa that is in my mind. 😉

This post was first published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in English by Afriscitech.



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