Never in my wildest imaginations thought I would come here. I have been to Congo – Kinshasa many times, rather the big nation, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire). But the other Congo, The Republic of Congo, just across the might river has always been a vague entity.
But thanks to some business, I landed in Brazzaville, the capitol of the Republic of Congo.
The consulate in Nairobi gave me a visa in a record 30 minutes. The ladies in charge of the the visa section did not talk much. Took the documents, the fee and I was on my way.
I landed at Maya Maya airport and regretted skipping my college French lessons. Yes, they proudly speak French here.
Brazzaville is a pleasant city on the shores of River Congo. Across the river, you can see Kinshasa, the capitol of The Democratic Republic of Congo. It is actually a five-minute ride by a motorised boat between the two. The two cities are the closest capitols in the world.
At times I would have lunch or dinner at Mami Water, a famous restaurant and watch over the other city or fishermen in the river.
Brazzaville is small – well done streets and amazing architecture. One of its major features is the Pont du Août 5 bridge, a 560-metre cable-braced viaduct. It is a wonderful piece of art. And every Sunday they close the road to the bridge to all vehicle moment and let the people walk and enjoy. On this day, you will find families, joggers, lovers, photographers and choirs in practice.
On the southern part of the city stands the concave Nabemba Tower, the tallest building (30 storeys) in the country which rises from the banks of the river, loading over the city with magnificence.
But my eye popping moments are always in the markets and clubs. In the markets, I saw live and dead bats on sale. Yes, Ebola virus is not going away any time soon! I also saw massive worms on sale – big, succulent, fat worms! I was curious as to how they would taste once roasted. It is a delicacy and an important source of proteins here.
The people of this nation take things easy – polite, too. The Senegalese and other traders from the north (the Fulani) do most of the businesses. They literally run every part of Poto Poto, one of the major markets in Brazzaville.
My best moments here are at the street bars and restaurants. At the end of the day, they seem to pop out of nowhere. It is amazing to watch how evenings turn out where people set tables and seats outside their homes and have a good time. Of course, the hot and humid weather makes it a necessity to do this in the evening.
For international shoppers, sorry – Brazzaville has few options. There are only two malls. A few hotel brands like the Radisson Blue and Michaels are present – you will find an expatriate crowd here.
For an East African, I finally found out the meaning of Lingala music – yes, here, it runs in blood and they can dance!