Congo in Limbo

Cédric Gerbehaye

Congo in Limbo is the photographic essay done by Cédric Gerbehaye in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulting from the time he spent there and his rigorous commitment. His viewpoint encompasses the complexity and intricacies of an overlooked conflict.

In Congo in Limbo, no one laughs. This begs explanation. Because, for whoever’s been to the country knows that laughter – the insolent challenge of happiness in the face of tragedy – ranks as a national pastime there. For good reason: Leopold II and the vile scramble for ivory and natural rubber, a lustrum of trouble on the heels of Independence, thirty-two years of Mobutu’s “kleptocracy”, and all that only to fall into the hands of Kabila, first Senior and then Junior… You better laugh lest you should keep crying! And, in fact, the Congo both laughs and cries, except “on the border of hell”. This is where Roman Catholic theology locates “the abode of righteous souls”, who lived before the coming of Christ, and of infants who die unbaptized. They are to remain in Limbo until the Saviour’s Second Advent. In the Congo, the state lines border this waiting room for a hapless plenty. They are neither guilty nor innocent but, like their country, simply lost in transition: shunted into a cul-de-sac, put on history’s treadmill. They live in the past of a hope that has never materialized, amidst the ruins of a world they’ve never built. They live in an eternal dawning awaiting, in vain, broad daylight.

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