19 August 2014

Central African Republic: Centrafrique in Crisis - Instagrams From the Edge


RICHARD POPLAK and KEVIN BLOOM have been travelling the Central African Republic, researching the conflict that has just birthed Africa's newest balkanised state-let: Dar El-Kouti. This, then, is the contents of their iPhones.

Monday 11 August 2014. An armoured vehicle belonging to the French forces, known in CAR as Operation Sangaris, rolls down the street outside the Hotel Levy, where we were installed for the duration of our stay in Bangui. "Sangaris" is a reference to the beautiful red Centrafrique butterfly, but the French are not quite so gentle a presence. Their mandate is to disarm both rebel groups--Seleka and anti-Balaka--without engaging them in combat, which is sort of like legalising weed without criminalising its sale. And while we have literally seen Sangaris forces fist bumping babies, they are not widely adored.

Bangui, CAR's capital, is studded with stunning examples of faded modernist architecture, much of it built from concrete, dating back to the liberation era. The South African photographer Guy Tillim referred to these types of structures, which seem vertiginously unmoored from the present, as "Floating Worlds".

A resident of the enormous refugee camp nestled up to the sole runway at Bangui's international airport gazes out at Sangaris forces...

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