‘He will bring light into our darkness’: DR Congo pins hope on a new leader
In the sweltering heat of a provincial capital, we join the citizens desperate for next week’s election to bring a new dawn
The Avenue Salongo is the Champs-Élysées of Mbuji-Mayi, residents say. The comparison is an optimistic one. There is little that unites this strip of pitted tarmac, with its pair of faltering streetlights and sweltering central African humidity, with the famously beautiful Parisian boulevard – other than the French language spoken on both.
The Avenue Salongo’s only hotel is the Metropole, where paunchy political fixers drink strong beer in a “salon bar” furnished with much smoked glass and heavy fake leather furniture. Opposite is a row of diamond dealers, where local artisanal “diggers” sell stones scrabbled from red earth in makeshift mines among the verdant hills around the city. An understocked pharmacy, a restaurant selling grilled offal and the Couture de la Paix dress shop complete the scene.