KONGO, REPUBLIKA – REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO – RÉPUBLIQUE DU CONGO – REPUBILIKA YA KONGO

Gradska dzamija-The city mosque

Gradska dzamija-The city mosque

Katedrala Sveto srce-The Holy Heart Cathedral

Katedrala Sveto srce-The Holy Heart Cathedral

Nenad Pandurovic-Stanislav

Nenad Pandurovic-Stanislav

Pogled na Kinsasu iz Brazavila-A view of Kinshasa from Brazzaville side

Pogled na Kinsasu iz Brazavila-A view of Kinshasa from Brazzaville side

Pretovarena barza na reci Kongo-An overloaded barge on the Congo River

Pretovarena barza na reci Kongo-An overloaded barge on the Congo River

Restaurant Chez Tantine

Restaurant Chez Tantine

Tintin u Kongu-Tintin in the Congo

Tintin u Kongu-Tintin in the Congo

U Zoo vrtu-At the Zoo

U Zoo vrtu-At the Zoo

Ulicna scena u Brazavilu-A street scene in Brazzaville

Ulicna scena u Brazavilu-A street scene in Brazzaville

Unutrasnjost bazilike Svete Ane-Interior of St. Anne's basilica

Unutrasnjost bazilike Svete Ane-Interior of St. Anne’s basilica

Zivot kraj brzaka reke Kongo-Life by the rapids of the Congo River

Zivot kraj brzaka reke Kongo-Life by the rapids of the Congo River

Ova država se prostire duž severne obale reke Kongo. To je bivši francuski
Kongo, za razliku od onog većeg, belgijskog, koji se nalazi južno od reke.
Tako je reka Kongo postala prirodna granica dveju istoimenih zemalja, a
Brazavil i Kinšasa jedine prestonice u svetu koje, sa suprotnih obala,
gledaju jedna u drugu.
Na tom mestu reka je široka nekoliko kilometara. Uz malo mašte, reklo bi se
da je Menhetn preko puta. Ipak, da biste sa tog Menhetna došli u Brazavil,
glavni grad Republike Kongo, ne ukrcavate se u turistički brodić za
razgledanje grada, već u pretrpanu baržu, koja je, sudeći prema opterećenju,
bliža dnu reke nego njenoj površini. Priznajem da mi je draža od
najluksuznijeg putničkog broda, dok radoznalo posmatram ukrcavanje i
iskrcavanje. To se dešava uz neopisivu buku i svađu, kao i prateće čamce iz
kojih se ljudi i teret krišom ubacuju na već pretrpano plovilo. Tu se negde
kriju i pasoška i carinska kontrola, a koga oni kontrolišu zaista nije
jasno, jer je ionako sve bez ikakve kontrole. Naravno, uz stalno prisutni
strah kako ćemo uopšte stići na suprotnu obalu.
Odlukom generala De Gola, Brazavil je bio prestonica Slobodne Francuske za
vreme nemačke okupacije u Drugom svetskom ratu. Taj grad je ponosan na sve
što je De Gol učinio za njihovu nezavisnost, kao i za dekolonizaciju
subsaharske frankofonske Afrike, koja je započela upravo u ovom gradu.
Ogromna reka Kongo, koja teče duž čitave granice dveju istoimenih zemalja,
zbog brojnih brzaka i ostrvaca prestaje da bude plovna od izlaska iz grada,
do ulaska u Atlantik. Na njenu obalu dolaze stanovnici Brazavila da okupaju
i rashlade kako sebe, tako i svoje automobile, kamione i domaće životinje.
Pri dolasku u grad, put vodi pored Francuskog kulturnog centra i katedrale,
do najstarije gradske četvrti Bakongo. Afrička vreva svuda me prati, dok,
konačno, ne potražim predah u restoranu Chez Tintin. Taj omiljeni lik dečaka
detektiva iz istoimenog stripa, koji putuje po svetu i upada u brojne
avanture, neprestano me podseća na mog mlađeg sina, koji se zove Konstantin.
Kad je bio sasvim mali, nije mogao da izgovori svoje ime, već ga je
skraćivao na Tantin, ili Tintin, kako bi se to izgovaralo na francuskom. Od
tada na svojim putovanjima, sigurno u želji da su i sinovi sa mnom, uvek
kupujem majice sa tim likom, koji,  posle mnogo godina, postaje ponovo
popularan. Na tim putovanjima priželjkujem da i njih jednog dana zapljusne
talas avanturizma, kao i mene i Tintin-a, i da onda, zajedno, lutamo
Afrikom, prelazimo reku Kongo, jedrimo Gvinejskim zalivom, penjemo se na
Kilimandžaro i, pri zalasku sunca, posmatramo životinjsko carstvo na pojilu
nad rekom Zambezi. Afrika je majka svih putovanja, neprekidni izvor
inspiracija i lepote.
Zbog toga je moja sestra po belosvetskim lutanjima, Sonja Lapatanov, sigurno
po tome nazvala svoju poslednju putopisnu knjigu – Mama Afrika.

Novembar 2003.
_________________________________________________________

This country stretches along the North shore of the River Congo. This used
to be the French Congo, which needs to be differentiated from the larger
Congo which used to belong to Belgium and lies south of the river. Thus the
River Congo became a natural border between these two countries bearing the
same name, while Brazzaville and Kinshasa are the only capitals in the world
that face each other from the opposite shores. At this spot the river is a
few kilometres wide. With a little imagination you could think that the
Manhattan is just across the river. However, to reach Brazzaville, the
capital of Republic of the Congo, from ‘that Manhattan’, you do not board a
tourist sightseeing boat, rather an overcrowded barge, which judging by its
load, is closer to the bottom of the river than its surface.
I admit that I prefer it to the most luxurious cruiser, while I curiously
observe boarding and disembarkation. It is all happening with indescribable
noise and arguing, while from surrounding boats people and goods are
secretly loaded on to the already overcrowded vessel. Somewhere around there
passport and customs control is to be seen, but who they check and how is
unclear to me because there is no real control of any kind in sight. Of
course, the fear about how we are going to make it to the other shore is
present at all times.
It was De Gaulle’s decision to proclaim Brazzaville the capital of Free
France during the German occupation in World War II. This city is proud of
everything De Gaulle did to support their independence as well as the
decolonisation of the sub-Saharan Francophone Africa, which originated in
this city.
The long River Congo, which flows along the border between two Congo states,
is not navigable from the spot where it leaves the city until it flows into
the Atlantic, because of its many rapids and islets. The citizens of
Brazzaville come to its shores to freshen up in its waters, whether it is
themselves, their cars, trucks or domestic animals. Once you are in the
city, the road leads you from the French cultural centre and the cathedral
to the oldest city quarters of Bacongo. African hustle and bustle follow me
everywhere, until I settle down to have a rest in the restaurant Chez
Tintin. This favourite cartoon character, a boy detective who travels the
world and has many adventures, always reminds me of my younger son whose
name is Konstantin. When he was really little, he could not pronounce his
name, so he shortened it to Tantin, or Tintin as it would be in French.
Since then during my travels, probably wishing that my sons were with me, I
always buy t-shirts with this character, who is again popular after many
years. While travelling, I wish that one day they also get swept by the wave
of adventurous spirit, like Tintin and me. And then, I imagine us roaming
Africa together, crossing the Congo river, sailing across the Gulf of
Guinea, climbing the Kilimanjaro and then at sunset watching the animal
kingdom at a watering hole above the Zambezi river. Africa is the mother of
all journeys,  a constant source of beauty and inspiration.
That is probably why, Sonja Lapatanov, my ‘sister in worldwide wanderings’,
has called her latest travelogue – Mama Afrika.

November 2003

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