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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:10 PM   #1
brisavoine
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Kinshasa, the second-largest city in the francophone world

Here are some pics of a city rarely seen on Skyscrapercity. Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, or simply Congo for the locals. The city lies on the southern bank of the mighty Congo River. It has about 8 million inhabitants. On the northern bank of the river, just opposite downtown Kinshasa, lies Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, which has 1.5 million inhabitants in its urban area. The conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville has thus about 9.5 million inhabitants, and is growing very fast.

Kinshasa is the second most populated metropolitan area in the francophone world after Paris, and if current demographic trends continue it should become the most populated one by the end of the 2010s, ahead of Paris, something the Congolese are very proud of. Economically speaking, it's another story of course. Kinshasa is a multilingual city, like most African cities. People come from all parts of Congo and speak many different African languages and dialects. The lingua franca are Lingala and French. Lingala is used more as a street language among people from different linguistic backgrounds, whereas French is used more as a written and official language (in schools, administrations, hopitals, etc.). Many people often mix both languages, sometimes inside the same sentence, or frequently code-switch between the two.

First I'll start with a few general views of downtown Kinshasa, more precisely the commune of La Gombe which is the business district of Kinshasa. Once very modern, with the tallest towers in Africa, it has suffered a lot with the civil war, and it looks rather rundown now. Still, you can have a sense that it must have looked pretty nice and modern in the 1970s. Congo is expected to grow at nearly Chinese growth rates in the next years according to the IMF, so hopefully La Gombe will be back to its former state, and maybe they'll also build new skyscrapers.

Then I'll continue with pictures of daily life in Kinshasa. Crazy pictures, some a bit shocking, but that's Kinshasa. Mostly recycled from another thread I created a year ago in the francophone forum. These daily life pictures come from the blog of Cédric Kalonji, a Congolese from Kinshasa who keeps an incredible blog describing daily life in one of the poorest and most populated cities in the world. His blog is very depressing at times, but very humane above all. People trying to survive in such conditions commands respect and gives hope for the future I think. For us, in the pampered Western world, life is so easy, we don't deserve as much credit as these people in Kinshasa just doing their best to survive in a harsh environment. You can have a look at the blog here: http://www.congoblog.net/

The business district of La Gombe:









image hosted on flickr


The edge of sprawling Kinshasa, where the city gives way to paddy fields:
image hosted on flickr


View of Kinshasa and its 8 million people as seen from the Brazzaville on the other side of the river:
image hosted on flickr


Zoomed view taken from the Brazzaville side of the river:
image hosted on flickr


Scenes of daily life:

A young thief has just been caught and beaten by the people he was trying to rob:


Young Kinois (inhabitants of Kinshasa) carrying the coffin of their friend through the flooded streets of the city:


Prostitution at night. Fees: with condom 0.67 euros, without condom 1.34 euros.


A wild dog was captured and killed by these Kinois who are about to cook it:


Banners everywhere for the presidential and legislative elections last year:




On the evening when the results of the presidential election were announced, there was heavy gunfire in downtown Kinshasa between the camps of both candidates. At the same moment, in a suburb of Kinshasa, these graduates from the ISTA (Institut supérieur des techniques appliquées) were leaving the stadium where their graduation ceremony had just taken place:


A traffic officer is extorting money from a motorist. Picture taken without the traffic officer noticing:


Job offer. The French text reads: "The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is looking for a competent and incorrupt minister of tourism". Anyone interested?


Kids living in the street. There are a lot of them in Kinshasa, due to the civil war and crumbling economy. They are one of the main causes of insecurity in Kinshasa according to the author of the blog:


Street kids extorting money from a well-to-do motorist. His car will be fred only after he gives money:


Débrouillardise is a key aspect of daily life in Kinshasa. In Kinshasa French slang it's called article 15 (pronounced "article quinze"). In English débrouillardise or article 15 means something like resourcefulness.


Article 15 again:

Last edited by brisavoine; April 23rd, 2008 at 10:19 PM.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 03:40 AM   #2
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I always thought Montreal was the second francophone city in the world after Paris.

Nice pics btw, some of them quite brutal and shocking.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 07:10 AM   #3
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Montreal used to be the second largest French speaking city in the world.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 07:50 AM   #4
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Amazing thread. One of the best by far I have ever come across on this forum.

For once a thread that doesn't carefully tip toe around reality.

This is real urban photography.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 08:01 AM   #5
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Wow, I'd love to visit Kinshasa but I have a feeling I'd either get really sick or become an easy victim of violent crime. 1.34 Euros without a condom? Hopefully you don't get AIDS.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 11:20 AM   #6
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Brisavoine, thank you for this very informative thread (and your other off-the-beaten -path messages in the forum as well). I really appreciate your contributions about cities or historical topics that are rarely adressed in this forum, such as this one. The blog you mentionned is fabulous and extremely interesting to read for any spoiled Westerner by the way.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 12:24 PM   #7
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very interesting. However, most of the africa-related thread make me sad
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Old April 24th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #8
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depressing pics...
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Old April 24th, 2008, 03:46 PM   #9
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Depressing indeed, but such a thread could easily have been made about most big cities in the world.

Wonderful addition to the forum though.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 04:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mishevy View Post
I always thought Montreal was the second francophone city in the world after Paris.
Well Montréal is the city with the second-largest population of native French speakers in the world after Paris, but Kinshasa is the second most populated city where French is official and people are in daily contact with French and also use it a lot. There is even a Kinshasa French slang that has appeared, as mentioned above. A very interesting slang I must say. I already mentioned article 15. Another one I love is how they call mistresses. If people have several mistresses the first mistress is called premier bureau (i.e. desk or office #1), then the second mistress is called deuxième bureau (i.e. desk or office #2), the third one troisième bureau, and so on.

People who party at night are called fêtards in the French slang of France, but they are called ambianceurs in Kinshasa French slang. And let's not forget that a Kinshasa French slang word has made its way into the French slang of France: la sape means stylish clothing. People who love wearing stylish clothes all the time are called sapeurs in Congo. In Kinshasa it's common to see sapeurs in the middle of completely derelict streets. It's one of the many contradictions in this crazy city.
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Originally Posted by fettekatz View Post
very interesting. However, most of the africa-related thread make me sad
Even in Congo there is a silver lining. Here are the latest GDP growth rate predictions by the IMF concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
2008: +8.8%
2009: +11.6%
2010: +11.8%

Growth rate predictions for the entire Subsaharan Africa for comparison:
2008: +6.6%
2009: +6.7%
2010: +6.4%

Congo is one of the richest countries in the world due to its immense deposits of diamonds and metals (copper, etc.). It is only because of very bad management since the 1960s that the country is so poor now. If the coutry is well managed in the future it can become one of the most prosperous in Africa, but it won't be an easy ride because a- the population is growing at a crazy rate, Congo should have as many inhabitants as Brazil by 2050, and b- the economy has collapsed so much that pretty much every civil servant and politician is corrupt. It's a perfect example of game theory gone wrong: they don't have incentive to be incorrupt, because other people are corrupt, so they would lose out. It will take an awful lot of time to decrease corruption. But revenues from mining should help, even with the corruption. In the southern province of Katanga, where most mines are located, the standard of living is not as low as in Kinshasa. Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga, looks much more clean and developped than Kinshasa. Actually the author of the blog I mentioned above went to Lubumbashi and couldn't help noticing the difference with Kinshasa.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Good View Post
The blog you mentionned is fabulous and extremely interesting to read for any spoiled Westerner by the way.
Frankly, most of the world is spoiled in comparison, considering we're looking at the world's second poorest country here.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 06:31 AM   #12
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Excellent thread.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #13
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thanks for the pics. i've been interested in seeing this place for a while, ever since i did a paper on it in french class in high school.

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Old April 26th, 2008, 07:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyronin View Post
Frankly, most of the world is spoiled in comparison, considering we're looking at the world's second poorest country here.
Monkey, I completely agree with you. Most of the world is very spoiled by comparison to a poor country like this.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 02:36 AM   #15
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well but they seems to have got some little highrises there , for an african country is a consolation don't you think ?
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Old April 28th, 2008, 04:51 AM   #16
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Your photos are very good, as well as showing the city, you also show the life in it. Rarely seen, thanks.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 04:24 AM   #17
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Does someone have lubumbashi pics??
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Old July 6th, 2008, 12:45 PM   #18
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Depressive images

I dont think that Kinshasa is the second-largest city in the francophone world
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Old July 16th, 2008, 03:57 AM   #19
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Great Thread! Some pics are really shocking and sad, even for someone who has grown up in a so called third world country (and should be more "used" to what is poverty), but killing that dog to eat and that level of prostitution among others are just shocking and it is so sad people in our world has to live with it.
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Old July 16th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brisavoine View Post
Well Montréal is the city with the second-largest population of native French speakers in the world after Paris.

It would be interesting seeing some numbers... not everyone speaks French
in Montreal as their first tongue, either.. about 2/3 of the population, but Kinshasa is a much, much bigger city.
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