mardi, avril 01, 2008

Brazzaville, a colorful city

In the coming few days I received a general orientation to Brazzaville. Now, despite what the natives say, Brazzaville is a beautiful city. Folks here frequently point out that it is quite dirty and in many places dilapidated, which it is. People throw trash into the street with no regard for the cleanliness of their city – I’ve seen just about everyone here do it.

No sound waste management

There are also no sound waste management services in the city or laws against such pollution, so take your pick as to who is to blame – the government/incentive structure or the people/culture. The lack of waste management causes a variety of impromptu landfills to spring up all over the city, which makes conditions less aesthetically pleasing and unsanitary.

The civil war also caused serious damage to much of the city, including the downtown city-center area. Major buildings, public and private, were utterly destroyed. It takes so long to build and virtually no time at all to destroy, as anyone from Congo, or any war-ravaged country will tell you. People here are still struggling to overcome the damage caused by the war.

Technicolored city

But despite the dirtiness, the dilapidation, the unpaved roads, etc, Brazzaville is a beautiful city. The city is very colorful – even their trash is technicolored. The buildings have bright, multicolored paint on the outside, often with hand-painted pictures depicting whatever service or product the store is selling. Barbershops have pictures of suave-looking men and women, electronics stores have stereos, televisions, computers, and DVD players, bakeries have pastries painted on their outer walls, and so on. (Funny story – there was one store that depicted a man and woman looking all cool and fashionable on the outside – clearly a barbershop, right? Wrong. It was a bakery, which I only deduced after noticing that the guy in the pictures, in addition to perfectly styled hair, slick clothes and cool sunglasses, was holding in has hand a delicious-looking croissant. Haha, maybe it was a barbershop that became a bakery. The croissants were good.)

Colored clothes
The clothes here are also abundantly bright-colored. Clothing here consists of either western styles of dress – T-shirts, jeans, etc, etc – and infinitely-more-comfortable-looking African dress, which mostly consists of draped or wrapped sheets of light, colorful cloth. The two styles tend not to mix – you never see a guy, say, wearing and African shirt with blue jeans. In the states we don’t really have as colorful clothing, so it is strikingly different in a good way.

All of these effects combine to produce a kaleidoscope of shifting colors and shapes when you are walking down the streets. We just don’t have this in cities in the West, which in my experience tend to be different intonations of the black, grey, and white spectrum. It’s like we forgot to paint our buildings or something. Brazzaville is especially beautiful in the morning and evening, before the weather becomes so cripplingly hot.

Brendan Snow

2 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…


I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use part of the information from this blog post above if I provide a link back to your site?


Anonyme a dit…

Thanks for sharing the link, but argg it seems to be offline... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if someone here at could post it.