Stephan Vanfleteren - Congo Portraits

Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren has produced an accomplished series of portraits to mark the 50th anniversary of Congolese independence (from Belgium) which is celebrated this month, though whether many in this war torn country will feel in a celebratory mood is another matter.

Maman Nicole 'I've known I was HIV positive since 1993. When my husband died of Aids, my family rejected me. Look at Marianne: her husband was the ambassador and she ended up sleeping on a cardboard box! There's only the two of us here now, at Femmes Plus (Positive Women). Chantal used to sleep on a piece of fabric, her food covered in mould. She used to have to drag herself to the filthy toilets on all fours. When she died, we buried her. The street kids who live in the cemetery called out, "How long have women had to bury the dead?" The coffin was too heavy for us. They ran over, pushed us aside and took the coffin on their shoulders. They had tears in their eyes.'

Photograph: Stephan Vanfleteren/Panos Pictures

1 comment:

sharon said...

Jambo Mr. Vanfleteren,

Your photos are amazing. The captions are wonderful. I can see the pride in their faces despite the harsh reality of life in the DRC. I was there in 2006 when they were having elections. The conditions are terrible but they still smile and they have a lot of hope.

Thank you for posting. I viewed them on the BBC website and had to find out who took them. I forwarded the link to several friends in the Congo as well as the ones I know in the US.

One must travel to the DRC to see the oxymoronic life; the lush and abundant beauty of the country and the poverty of the people. But the people are rich in spirit and pride. I call it “The Land of Big Smiles.”

Thanks again,

S. Gossom
Charlotte, NC