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14 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM

TALE OF BRAZZAVILLE – Part 1

By Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman Niaz
TALE OF BRAZZAVILLE – Part 1

Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Congo. It is situated on the northern bank of the Congo River, with Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) situated on the southern bank. This is the only place in the world where two national capital cities are on opposite banks of the same river, and within sight of each other. Brazzaville was founded in 1880 by the Italian-born French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza. The city is named after him. The country was a French colony and the city became the capital in 1904. Civil wars throughout the 1990s resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. Here, October to May is the wet season. The Maya-Maya Airport connects the city with other parts of the world.

I got an opportunity to visit this city in October 2016. I planned the trip from Kinshasa with one of my colleagues. Ferries and fast private boats serve as the primary means of connection between Kinshasa and Brazzaville. Reaching the river bank, we completed immigration formalities. The last boat from Kinshasa leaves at around 8pm.

We crossed the river by a speed boat. Congo River is the world's deepest river, with maximum depth of around 220 metres. During the rainy season, the Congo discharges over 50,000 cubic metres of water per second into the Atlantic Ocean, making it the second largest river in the world by discharge volume. The river and its tributaries flow through the Congo Rainforest. Various species of fish, turtles and crocodiles are native to the Congo River basin.

After completing immigration formalities at Brazzavile port, we searched for a taxi. Here, taxis are easily recognised, being painted with a green body and white top. It was very difficult for us to communicate with the people as they don’t understand English at all. Here, they speak in French. Our first destination was Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Memorial. We had to show a picture on a mobile phone as the taxi driver was not getting our English.

We visited the mausoleum built as a memorial to Brazza. It has a museum, garden and a giant statue. The museum is made of gleaming white marble and glass. Inside the museum, we saw various artifacts, crafts, pictures and ornaments that reflect local culture.

In 2006, skeletal remains of Brazza, as well as those of his wife and four children, were flown in to Brazzaville from Algeria. Finally, it became their eternal resting place. We saw the graves of Brazza and his family members. Recently, the government initiated expansion works to transform the site into a cultural complex. We learned that it will include an auditorium, a theatre, restaurants and art galleries.

Hotel De Ville is located adjacent to the memorial. We heard that during French rule it was used as city hall. We hired a taxi and started for Palais des Congres. It is the parliament of the country. It features two large conference plenary rooms, a banqueting hall and large exhibition area.

Then following Boulevard Alfred Raoul within walking distance, we came across the national stadium. It was named after Congo’s second president, Alphonse Massemba-Debat. It has an athletics track. From there by taxi we reached our next destination, the 15 August 1960 Bridge.

The bridge commemorates the independence date of the state. It was opened for traffic on February 5, 2016. The two-way approach road along the river bank has a wide median and sidewalk. The cable-stayed bridge offers a panoramic view, with a curved deck and two pylons. Since it was evening, the bridge was illuminated with lights and had a brilliant look. We found many people walking there, enjoying the cool breeze from the river. n

The writer is a civil Engineer and

a serving Military Officer.

Photos: Writer.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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