traffic jam

Publish date 31-05-2023

by Fabrizio Floris

In Kinshasa they say that «life is easy», here you find «Congo is easy» because there is no war. Yet, when you arrive at the international airport, there are already unidentified people on the runway. After that, at the first health check, a gentleman doesn't have a green pass, he can't pass and starts pushing the attendant, then decides that if he doesn't pass, no one else will enter and so he leaves for the first half hour.

Another step towards the check vaccinations exit, but even with the certificate in order, there is someone trying to tell you that something is wrong. While you are talking to show your documents, another plainclothes man arrives who silences the inspector, catches you and says you have to pass. He takes you away, takes your boarding pass and your luggage, but at that point he tells you that he's the boss and you have to give him 20 euros because that's the only way you'll go straight to the exit" (note {C} here the baggage check with the scanner is done to exit the airport). Outside, other people want to take your luggage and say nous voulons partager. Then, when the taxi driver arrives, he travels with the lights off to save petrol, he never slows down so as not to wear out the brakes; if someone crosses, he has to be careful, if a truck passes he slaloms, but the cruising speed must be respected. Life is easy here people start a speech in lingala, then insert French words and occasionally add a little kikongo and English or Swahili.< /i> But for the inhabitants of Kinshasa the nightmare is not the war, the economic crisis, unemployment, poverty, corruption and not even the forthcoming presidential elections worry people to the core: what is on everyone's lips is l' embouteillage. It is a moment in which the movement algorithm of the 18 million inhabitants of the city who move by truck, van, apecar, motorcycle and on foot stops. And – as in a game of shangai – it is not possible to find out what is the necessary movement, what is the half centimeter that everyone must do to move forward. The city stops, minutes pass and then hours until you fall into a state of unconsciousness, you no longer look for the exit, but it is it that seeks you, it is it that chases you. The embouteillage is nothing more than the awareness that in the labyrinth of life we cannot find the way out by ourselves.

Fabrizio Floris
NP March 2023

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