Between Neighborhoods Part II, Likasi – Alexia Liakounakou
Likasi is a small town in the Katanga province of southern DR Congo. Shying away from the global media as it is miles away from the wars in the Kivus and the mineral conflicts of the past four decades, this part of the country is little-known. However, this side of the Congo river is neither conflict-free nor uninteresting.
As is true for the rest of the country, entering the region is not a piece of cake. I had the luck to visit it because my uncle works there as a civil engineer in charge of road construction and, thankfully, enjoyed considerably good and hassle-free treatment upon landing. Lubumbashi, perhaps the only famous location in the whole region, is not very far away, but the bustling city feel is almost entirely absent from this place.
So what’s its story? Likasi used to be called Jadotville, but then changed its name as postcolonial etiquette would have it. It has been, and still is, a mining center, although the global economic crisis has hit the industry hard, forcing hundreds of people into the ‘artisanal’/small-scale (or ‘illegal’) mining business.
During my visit, Patrick, a very friendly and nice young man, escorted me around the town. He not only made sure to show me all areas, sub-towns and villages around Likasi, but he took me to a funeral and to one or two abandoned mines as well. He even took me to witness, photograph, and (forcedly) participate in a Primus beer commercial.
What is enchanting about this small, otherwise mundane little town is its atmosphere. The climate, the nature, the people, and the architecture – poor or wealthy, colonial or new, inside or outside – caught my attention and I couldn’t stop photographing it.
I always get drawn by places which I feel have been neglected, misrepresented, or done little justice, therefore I present what I saw with my own eyes and through my camera, as testament to the everyday, simple beauties of the Congo.
You can view more of Alexia’s work at alexialiakounakou.com