Today was my first day in Africa and I am struggling to file away all the images from the streets of Kinshasa. If I had been able to make pictures on the spot, this is what I would have chosen to draw:
The blue and yellow dented vans crammed full of passengers, patterned fabrics and brown limbs squished against the windows, men hanging off the sides and the roofs.
The men and women and children carrying all manner of things on their heads: cardboard flats of eggs, basins of baguettes, giant bags of ice, bowls of oranges and limes, trays of bananas, a stack of blue chairs.
The women in their fantastic dresses, tending vegetable gardens in a tiny strip next to the rubble and the barbed wire and the high walls of military compounds.
The young women with malaria-feverish babies in the hospital for mothers and infants, nursing under mosquito nets.
The broken down alleyways of rubble and stagnant puddles and threadbare chickens pecking at piles of garbage and planks propped over creeks of sewerage, and picking their way elegantly through it all, women in ruffles and bustles and bodices and nipped waists in cloth the colors of parrots.
Street photography is forbidden in the city, but when we visited the hospital for mothers and babies, some of the mothers were kind enough to let me photograph them. Today we head into the field, to Bas Congo. I'll be out of touch for a few days.