This must be the saddest photo of happy people in the world. Taken in the narrow slit of optimism between Congo’s passing from the most terrible colony in Africa to the most terrible failed state in Africa, Jean Depara’s photos of life in Kinshasa in the early 1950s show the rambunctious Congo that could have been.
A massive piece of public art depicting what is essentially a crude wooden bicycle may look silly, but remember that this is the chukudu, East Africa’s homebuilt truck of necessity, life, and death, which can carry 1,300 pounds of cargo.
These stamps of classic cars are from the Congo. The Congo is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about classic touring and race cars. Mind you, this is the Republic of Congo, not the big crazy Congo of Ali vs. Foreman, the Concorde landing strip in the jungle and the Second Congo War: that’s the…
Intrepid Belgians may cross the Congo in a Land Cruiser, but it’s a far cry from what locals use to haul their stuff. The handbuilt, wooden chukudu is a humble ride, but if you have one, you won’t starve.
In 2008, a Belgian couple traversed the Congo in a Toyota Land Cruiser, a drive few have attempted in decades. This is their story of adventure, corruption, and crumbling infrastructure in the world's second poorest country. — Ed.