Before and After Colonisation

The British, referred to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Congolese people as ‘Primitive’ because they respected the land they lived on and understand the harmony that mankind and nature must abide by. In cultivating Palm trees, they only took what was needed for themselves to feed their families, and constructed a simple but efficient system of refining palms into oil and other products for many different purposes.

The British observed  and studied their technique, in their greed they decided to make it into a mass production enterprise, one explorer stated “buried in their jungle, they were too backward to realise the vast inheritance it had to offer, the untapped resources of their vast continent…wealth lay wasting”

It is by this same so called ‘primitive’ invention that they sought out to make profit from Palm (Palm Trees only grow in Tropical climates so the English knew nothing on how to cultivate and process it) they took the  invention of the Congolese and  enforced their system of capitalism in their country to fund their industrial ‘revolution’, producing more than was necessary, raping the land, causing major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and for the vast majority if not all of the profits to be enjoyed in their own countries.

They then spread propaganda worldwide; ‘the savages lived in darkness’ 'we found them swinging from trees’ 'we saved them from  themselves’, 'we civilised them’ and etc

They made it larger scale, a little tweak there, a little alteration here, and the white man has the audacity to herald himself as an inventor.

Making alterations to a pre-existing system/product whilst keeping the core technique does not make you an inventor. Its called Plagiarism.

Jean, fifty-five, in Ngilima, a.k.a. “The Triangle of Death.” Congo, July 24, 2013. Photograph by Rena Effendi/INSTITUTE for The Sunday Times.

While working on a story in the Democratic Republic of Congo about the traumatic effects of violence against women and children perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army, I met Jean. A shy woman, she stood outside her tiny, bare house made of straw and mud under a pallapa roof. L.R.A. rebels had abducted her and murdered her husband in front of her eyes. One of the commanders ordered her lips to be cut off with a razor. She recounted: “I watched my lips fall on my knees like a donut.” I wanted to make a formal portrait of Jean. I knew her story needed to be told, but I felt uncomfortable posing her, fearing it might become exploitative. But in the middle of the shoot she giggled and asked me: “Are you going to give me the picture? I don’t have any photos of myself, I want one!” She raised a whirlwind of thoughts in my head: Is she ready to face this portrait, will it remind her of her trauma? Or is she so strong that she would not flinch? Did she just want her picture, because it’s normal? Does she have vanity like the rest of us? Jean was calm and able to talk about her horrific events without breaking down. All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed by her toughness and poise.—Rena Effendi.


The Kivus: Goma Airport

At Goma Airport, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, planes left due to wars and volcanic eruptions over the past two decades have become a playground for street children, some of whom sell the parts which are made into stoves and other items to be sold on the streets of Goma. 

One is generally prohibited from photographing this airport but in mid-December, 2012, after the M23 rebel force which occupied Goma left and before the FARDC (military of the D.R.C.) returned to the city, a security vacuum meant that nobody was guarding this section of the airport. Children guided me through the planes, which were later discussed by my Congolese fixer:

The volcano (Nyiragongo, just outside Goma) exploded and the lava blocked the planes. I helped move this plane after I and many of my friends living near the airport lost our homes to lava, on the first day of the eruption. On the second day, we saw the lava moving towards the planes. I and others were just watching the lava flow getting closer to the planes and we decided to move one of them, this newer one. There were at least a hundred people there pushing the plane for about 300 meters. A friend mine, who was there and whose house was also destroyed, had a childhood dream to be a pilot. But his parents were too poor and all the schools were expensive, so he could not hold onto that dream. He forgot about it, but then on that day, when we needed to move the plane, he told me to help him inside so he might steer it! We all pushed the plane as my friend waved his arm out the window, in the cockpit. We then climbed in the plane and saw the lava flowing down the volcano and into town

Michael Christopher Brown

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic
A Syrian Refugee Who Swam For Her Life Just Won Her Olympics Heat
“I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days.”
By David Mack

A Syrian refugee who found sanctuary in Europe after swimming in the icy Mediterranean waters enjoyed a fairy tale start to her Olympic dream on Saturday, winning her swimming heat.

Yusra Mardini is one of 10 athletes selected to compete in the first ever Olympics team composed entirely of refugees. The men and women from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo received huge applause when they entered the opening ceremony on Friday.

ardini, 18, was forced to swim for her life when her migrant boat began sinking as it was ferrying her and roughly 20 other refugees to Europe last year.

She and her sister, who both knew how to swim, jumped out and pushed the boat for three and a half hours until they reached the Greek island of Lesbos, she told the UN Refugee Agency.

“It would have been shameful if the people on our boat had drowned,” she said. “There were people who didn’t know how to swim. I wasn’t going to sit there and complain that I would drown. If was going to drown, at least I’d drown proud of myself and my sister.”

After they found refuge in Berlin, Mardini began swimming at a local sports club where she caught the eye of a coach.

When the International Olympic Committee decided to field a team of refugee athletes to draw global attention to the refugee crisis, Mardini was among those who qualified — barely nine months after she first arrived in Europe.

On Saturday, Mardini won her Women’s 100 meter butterfly swimming heat, posting a time of 1:09:21.

Continue Reading.

Patrick Willocq: On the road from Bikoro to Bokonda (Western DRC)

Artist Statement via lensculture

A testimony of everyday Batwa Pygmies and Bantu life in the province of Equateur, Democratic Republic of Congo. Together with the villagers, themselves actors committed to contributing to our project, I depict through a series of images various themes, such as education, religion, the relationship between men and women, the role of the forest and globalization. My long term immersion in these villages and the resulting complicity with villagers is at the root of these “bush theatres” that are artistically driven but yet reflect fundamental social problems and development needs.

I grew up in this country that I love. I know very well these villages since, parallel to my photographic work, I have been offering for the last 2 years community-based and fair-trade adventure tours to meet and discover  these villagers. I have always been struck by the beauty, simplicity and dignity of daily life, despite all the hardship they face.

I also wanted to go beyond images conveyed by Western media and show a Congo that we are not used to see because too often buried in images of war. I specifically wanted to witness the peace that prevails in the West, a different reality than the Eastern Congo. A reality that Western media regularly focus on and, although dramatic, stigmatizes the whole country.

* love love love this.

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives/NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN ART.

Students in Congo, where elaborate hairstyles signifiy wearers’ wealth and congeniality.

Glorious glorious glorious natural hair. Nothing better! *raises fist*



On this day in the year 1925, Patrice Émery Lumumba was born.

He was the first democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of Congo. He founded the “Mouvment national congolais” party and with that successfully helped his country gain independence from Belgium in 1960.

He was however executed a year later.  It is important to note that The United States (The CIA to be exact), Belgium and the United Kingdom were all involved in his death. 

Rest in Power.