Bukavu, August 11th. Shooting a documentary in Uganda, South Sudan and the ‘Democratic‘ Republic of Congo, we only accidentally pass Bukavu’s cathedral, a colonial heritage in light Provençal blue, and hear what sounds like women singing. Although the church is full, the music comes from outside the church. Women, men and children are rehearsing the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which they will celebrate on August 15th. It’s a colourful bunch, but what strikes the most is their joy, the light in dark eyes, that unequivocal joie de vivre preferably finding its way in music, singing, dancing, in things they can enjoy together. Conviviality is highly cherished in Congo.
At first, some people are shy, being confronted with a ‘muzungu’ (white person) taking photo’s, some are reluctant, some even hide behind their text page. But those who accept the game of being teased with humour or those I depict in that very moment they thought being unobserved, some who suddenly show audacity even, brought me a series of expressive photographs showing the so charming beauty of the Congolese, men, women and children alike. It is, however, a beauty against all odds. The country is in a deplorable state, corruption rules, democracy is merely a word.