Pointe Noire

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July 20th 2008
Published: August 15th 2008
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Initial reaction of intense disappointment. Where has the city so revered by Europeans and Congolese alike been hidden? True, the coast with its Atlantic waves and golden sand (just like light brown demerera sugar) is stunning. Yet the oil rigs and Disney style resorts invade the beauty. There is an air of something perverse, although that could just be the presence en masse of macho, chain smoking oil rig workers who expulse an aura that money is power.

21 July 2008
I have seen the light. Driving down Avenue Charles de Gaulle at night with the illuminated facades of shops, restaurants, casinos and night clubs shows Pointe Noire in a new light. It almost seems like a European coastal resort - save for the drone of generators and accompanying stench of burning diesel. Yet once beyond the main avenue the city plunges into the darkness of all other African cities with candles and kerosene lamps illuminating the wares of street traders. Nowhere are the contradictions of Africa so visible.

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