Congo Trip Notes: Last days in Kinshasa

Posted in Uncategorized | December 9, 2009 | by cathyz | (1) Comment

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It does feel that Kinshasa is striving toward modernity. In certain neighborhood quarters there are new apartment buildings going up. The Chinese are investing in Congo and their efforts are noticeable as they are building a big modern hospital and a soccer stadium. I was told there are plans for Chinese investment towards infrastructure and road building, etc. There are neighborhoods of gigantic mansions with barbed wire atop high stone fences. In these neighborhoods, where expats and wealthy Congolese live, there are paved streets and yards. Unfortunately, according to people I spoke to, very few of these advances have any impact on the daily life of most Congolese and corruption continues at all levels.

My last full day in Kinshasa, I had a tour of the city led by Paul Kerstens of KVS/Brussels. KVS has been working to develop artistic projects in Congo since 2005. They have supported and presented Faustin’s work (Festival of Lies, The Dialogue Series: iii Dinozord and more more more…future) and Jan Goossens (KVS’ Artistic Director) has visited Kisangani three times. Paul, the director of the Congo project, spends approximately six months a year there and pretty much knows the scene.

Most recently KVS organized – in partnership with Françoise Gardies, director of the Halle de la Gombe at CCF – the first festival of contemporary dance in Kinshasa. It lasted six days and, in addition to Alain Platel’s work Pitié!, there were workshops and presentations of work by performers from the Congo, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda and Mozambique.

With Paul, who hired a driver so we could travel through the various “quarters” of the city where artists live and work, I visited two visual artists’ work spaces/homes/compounds; and Les Béjarts, a socio-cultural organization for young people where I was treated to an excerpted performance of a play they’re developing about everyday life in Kinshasa.  I also visited the Zoo Theatre (because it’s next to what used to be a zoo).   At one time it was a beautiful and busy theatre but now it’s decrepit and used mostly for rehearsals and community gatherings.

At the end of the day, Paul and I spoke about building on our two organization’s efforts in Africa through knowledge and resource sharing to create an international network that includes the U.S., Europe and Africa.  Stay tuned…


One Response to “Congo Trip Notes: Last days in Kinshasa”

  1. Thanks for your response. I’m no longer posting about my trip there but we continue to explore and deepen our relationships with artists there and we will continue to blog about that. I’m curious, have you been to Congo?

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