Requiem pour la terre de lait_2022_Gosette Lubondo_Galerie Angalia

Some have called it the “Versailles of the Jungle”. The town and palaces of Gbadolite, located in northern DR Congo, rose from the middle of the jungle through President Mobutu’s will alone. He wanted to make his home village into his “promised land” in the late 1960s.

Terre de lait, terre de miel (from Leviticus “I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey”) refers to the desire underpinning the creation of Gbadolite – the promise of a place where nothing would be too luxurious or beautiful. A prestigious place that reflected Mobutu’s glory during the decades that followed its construction, Gbadolite was abandoned and pillaged following its builder’s fall from grace. Its promise went with him.

Mindful about the memory of places, and about how heritage is treated by those who inherit it, Gosette Lubondo explores the Gbadolite heritage site in this new series.

Gosette invites us to a ceremony inspired by political shows at which groups of dancers and singers put on shows in praise of Mobutu. However, here the dancers’ rhythmic dance routines and brightly coloured costumes have made way for contemplation and meditation. The photographer ascribes these feelings to the characters that she brings back to these abandoned places, which they knew at the height of their past glory, crystallised in the country’s collective memory.

See the Terre de lait, terre de miel series