Walk through the capital of the poorest African country
There is a pattern: the lower the level of education in society, the more prejudices in it. Now imagine a city with a population of one million people, which is the capital of Chad N'Djamena, of which a good half are absolutely not competent people belonging to different tribes and ethnic groups, in many respects akin, but still different.
The main African prejudice, which is that the white man is certainly rich and must share this wealth with all blacks, is surprisingly absent here, which is undoubtedly good for travelers. But the second major prejudice that every white photographer is a soul thief, a crop killer, which has a detrimental effect on cattle offspring, has taken on inconceivable proportions.
The consequence of this, and perhaps, on the contrary, the reason was the total ban on photography in the capital. Therefore, everything that is presented below was filmed almost on the sly, until no one sees it. Although a couple of times people noticed the cameras and reacted violently and with aggression.
The history of the city is typical for many countries that were colonies. Ever since the Middle Ages, the Bornu state existed in the area around Lake Chad, the main sources of income of which were cattle breeding and slave trade. In 1893 it was conquered by Sudanese warlord Rabih al-Zubayr and became part of his empire. For seven years he managed to keep control of the country and trade in slaves, but in 1900 his interests intersected with the interests of France, which conducted wars of conquest in these parts in order to unite their possessions in Central and West Africa. The rivalry was clearly unequal, and in the Battle of Kousseri (satellite town of N'Djamena on the Cameroon side, I mentioned it in the first part) on April 22, 1900 Rabih was killed and beheaded (there is a photo if you are interested). The French side suffered serious losses, in particular, one of the commanders of the troops, Amedé-Francois Lamy, was killed. Thanks to this victory, France significantly expanded the colony, and already on May 29, the future capital of Chad was founded on the opposite bank of Cusseri to control the navigable part of the Shari River and its tributary Logone.The settlement was named in honor of the slain in the battle Amed-Francois.
Interestingly, the Second World War has come to here. The local airport the French used to transport cargo. And in the 42nd year, it was even bombed by German aircraft, destroying a dozen planes and fuel reserves. By the 1940s, just over 10,000 people lived in Fort Lamy. The city’s population grew only after 1960, when Chad gained independence. In 1973, Fort Lomi, on the wave of Africanization, started by then-President Francois Tombalbai, was renamed N'Djamena, after the neighboring village. From Arabic, the name translates as "a place to rest."
Several times in the course of modern history, the capital was seriously battered, with victims and destruction. First, during the civil war in 1979-80, then during the Libyan occupation (1980-81). The last 10 years are also difficult to call calm, there have been fights with the rebels of the United Front for Democratic Change on the approaches to the capital in 2006 and 2008. Now it seems to be quiet, but the tension is felt, and the eastern border (the militants came from the Sudan) is heavily guarded.
City sculpture.My first photo in N'Djamena, taken on the way from the airport. In general, the city has surprisingly many monuments and sculptures of quite a decent level by African standards.
Having stayed in the hotel Le Sahel, where a fast-paced room with a fungus on the walls and without light in the toilet costs as much as 100 euros, we went to one of the central streets of N'djamena - Avenue Charles de Gaulle.
Room in a starless hotel.
Despite the fact that it was a normal working day, Thursday evening, cars and pedestrians were practically absent - this did not sound like the hustle and bustle to which I was used in African countries. At the end of the street there was a church arch with a cross - a peculiar sight, especially against the background of the Muslims who fell to the ground in the evening prayer. We set off to this construction, which was completely strange for the Islamic Sahara.
On the way, looked into the supermarket. Chad does not produce anything, the only locally produced product found on the shelves is yogurt in bottles, but there is a suspicion that he is not from Chadian milk, or maybe not from milk at all. Since all goods are imported, the prices are exorbitant.
Avenue Charles de Gaulle was built in the same style, all ground floors are made with arcades, and this is practical - it protects people from the scorching sun - and gives the street a complete look.
Here is the business quarter of the Chadian capital: embassies, banks, offices and offices. The western part, where our hotel hid on a secondary street, is called the European Quarter, possibly due to some surviving colonial buildings.
Commercial Bank du Chari:
Interestingly, at the time of the very Africanization, the street retained its name. Why it was “forgotten” to be renamed is a mystery, perhaps they did not want to touch the “holy” name of de Gaulle in order not to irritate the former metropolis once again.
The capital is literally flooded with such lizards, there are hardly fewer of them than the locals:
The street rests on the circle of the name of the last Sultan Ndjamena Kasser and ends with two significant (and by local standards, and gigantic) buildings located almost opposite each other.
Bank of Central African States (fr. Banque des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale, BEAC):
The second has not yet been completed, but it already resembles a parking lot:
Here the street turns a little and passes behind the cathedral, which is expected to be closed and empty - it seems to me that it is more for the entourage, although it gives a certain view to the city. There was a padlock on the trellis door of the church, and a man was trying to see something inside the temple.Meanwhile, this is one of the oldest buildings of the city, built in the early years of the colony. If you look at old photographs, you can pay attention to the pretty arched roof that once covered the temple, it was destroyed during the civil war, but the arch itself miraculously survived.
Opposite the cathedral is the National Museum, which did not have time to visit, and a little to the side - the presidential palace, stuffed with military weapons, which I did not even try to photograph. Nearby is Place de la Nation. When we were photographing the monument on the square (see the title picture), the guards came up and said that photography is prohibited. Well, we agreed, we will not take pictures - just walk. No, they answered, you did not understand, it is also forbidden to walk here. I had to listen and get out of the square. And here I will pay tribute to all the guards, who each time reminded us of the notorious strict ban. No one on the camera did not rush, did not require a flash drive, and did not ask to delete photos. The street people behaved with restraint, but they were also rather negative about photography, they even grabbed their hands a couple of times, they hissed and hissed.
The back of the complex was photographed only from afar.
After wandering a bit along the scattered center of the city, we went back to the avenue Charles de Gaulle.
Analysis of debris in the center:
Drying pants on the fence of the monument to the heroes:
A specific country is a specific president. Advertising Idris Déby.
The evening ended in a random Chinese restaurant. The staff is Chinese, the cuisine is Chinese, the menu is in Chinese. I was surprised to learn that Chad produces its own beer, which, however, is not found outside the capital. And not even sold in the same supermarket. Another significant observation - in the restaurant was pork.
We were surprised to meet a Chinese restaurant here, the Chinese were surprised to us.
They returned home in the dark, the people on the street became even smaller, the merchants lay right on the ground. It seems they did not even think about going somewhere for the night and collect their goods.
Arcade - a distinctive feature of N'Djamena:
Notice how clean:
Peanut night trading:
Before going to bed, I looked at the light of the guard at our hotel, becoming interested in a strange, unsightly meal on his plate.I identified this unusual root crop as cassava or manioc. The guard offered to share his modest meal with him, showing how to clean off a coarse thick skin. The taste of these terrible roots reminded ordinary potatoes, and seasoned with a mixture of salt and peppers, they turned out to be tastier than what we ate an hour ago in a Chinese eatery.
At night, someone bit me. When I woke up, I found several large reddened bites, but there were no mosquitoes around, maybe some mites in the bed ...
At half past seven after traditional scrambled eggs, we left the hotel. I sat down separately from Hassan in order not to listen to his stories about bans on shooting everything, except that it was not interesting. No sooner had the jeeps turned onto the main road, the fit guys in military uniform rushed into the eyes. No, it was not the usual loose guards in sneakers for bare feet and a parody of uniforms, on which we had seen enough yesterday. It stood real soldiers. At first I thought that President Irbis Derby decided to make his usual departure from the bathhouse to the restaurant, remembering how he once got on the route of the motorcade of the President of the Gambia, which covered several streets ... more serious than we thought.In a military conflict in neighboring Mali, 30 Chad soldiers were killed, and today their bodies should have been brought home. For the same reason, we were unable to get to the Grand Mosque, the street was blocked. Judging by the absolutely empty Avenue Charles de Gaulle, the whole city went to the mosque. Perhaps there should have been some mourning events. This little contingency crumpled up plans a little.
We went to Lake Chad and returned to the capital again. Hassan, as if he had caught my insidious plan, halfway decided to switch cars with a kind lad who was driving our SUV, and again found himself beside me, casting disapproving glances at my camera.
Outside the center of N'Djamena is built up with mud houses with tin roofs. But there are quarters with rich mansions.
The houses of the local rich were surrendered to the rebels who seized the capital a couple of years ago and were seriously affected by the looting.
One of the monuments, reminiscent of the city of Grozny, full of similar subjects:
Street in the capital:
Returning to N'Djamena, we found the avenue Charles de Gaulle extinct, there were no people, only the guards dozed lounging in their chairs.Yes, whether the valets, or tanker phone wandered among the rare cars, offering their services.
While we were waiting for our companions arriving from Somalia to be brought from the airport, I walked around the familiar avenue for a while. At some point my camera was spotted by two citizens on a motorcycle. Having rewarded me with a fierce cry, they rushed past, but soon they returned and went a couple of blocks back to me, explaining something in French. It seems that they decided that they were in the frame, although I did not shoot them at all.
Daily sale of peanuts:
After almost two weeks, we returned to N'Djamena, exhausted from a long journey, and I again fell into the hands of the keen Hasan. Recalling that they had promised to show the Great Mosque and the market, I loaded things into his Nissan Patrol and sat in the front seat. Hassan grumbled a little about the time and the way to the airport, and asked why I was so interested in this mosque. I answered something about the indescribable beauty of a sample of the Islamic architecture and the main attraction of the capital, without seeing which I would not even claim to have been in Chad. We came to the main market, wandered between the rows - nothing interesting, the typical fleece with Chinese clothes.Hassan immediately asked not to get a camera, so there are no photos, however, there was nothing to shoot there. I wondered if there were any souvenirs here, but it turned out that the tourist market is on the other side.
Built just a couple of decades ago, the Great Mosque of N'Djamena is not, of course, such an example of architecture, but still this is the main religious building in the country and it was worth looking at it at least with a glance. The mosque is located next to the Big Market, this is good, life in the quarter is variegated and photogenic. But in front of the mosque there is a police station and security everywhere, but this is very bad, you should not count on a photo session, but even for a walk around. “Hassan,” I asked, “I really want to take a picture of this place and show it in my country, help me.” It seems that he wanted just that - to feel that the white man needs him and is completely dependent on his will. After this small request, my companion seemed to have been changed, he seemed to have become an accomplice and began to give me recommendations when to get the camera, and from which side the military or police officer.We drove around the mosque in a circle, turned onto another de Gaulle street, spun around the bazaar and drove to the airport, peeking on the way to the souvenir market, littered with ordinary African junk: Dogon-style fakes, crocodile-skin briefcases, masks of the same type and vivid pictures, depicting black women topless at thatched-roof round houses.
Minarets of the Grand Mosque:
Another street named after de Gaulle:
Monument on the Square of the Stars (Pl.