resort. But whereas a real resort such as the South African Sun City brands itself as a ‘kingdom of pleasure’7, Bylex’s Tourist City is a more reflexive resort that trains the muscles of the mind. And again, the main protagonist is the figure of the tourist, so central to the Sun City concept. In Bylex’s city, the tourist is not a pleasure seeker, but someone in search of inner growth. This inner wisdom may be acquired in the city’s central building, the Royal Dome. Part temple and part museum, the Dome is a place of contemplation and reflection. It is here that all the knowledge of the world is stored and made accessible. After his visit to the Dome, the tourist inevitably has to return to the imperfections of the real city which he calls home. Replenished with new inspiration, creativity, reflexive capacity and imagination, the tourist is ready to counter the urban dystopia on the ground and to bring the existing city back in balance again, in order to make it a better place for all. Bylex’s utopian alternative Kinshasa strongly resonates with Doctor’s Tower vision (and in fact the Tower forms the logical material realisation of this artistic cardboard and coloured paper dream). Similarly, the Tower is in tune with a number of urban developments that are currently being built in Kinshasa in the form of satellite cities and new gated communities. Here the Cité du Fleuve is the best known and most prominent example (cf. De Boeck 2011). It is the name given to an exclusive development situated on two artificially created islands that are being reclaimed from sandbanks and swamp in the Congo River. Cité du Fleuve echoes many of the ideas behind concepts such as Stanford economist Paul Romer’s ‘charter city’, that is, a special urban reform zone which allows governments of developing countries to adopt new systems of rules and establish cities that can drive economic progress in the rest of the country. The Cité du Fleuve also replicates the segregationist colonial city model that proved so highly effective during the Belgian colonial period. Surprisingly perhaps, the construction of the Cité du Fleuve and other similar real estate developments does not trigger a lot of conflict or criticism in Kinshasa, not even from those who are being chased out of their homes and off their fields to make way for these new developments. Clearly, for better or for worse, and in spite of former failures, the idea of a ‘revolution of modernity’ (the slogan by means of which the central government currently brands its efforts to rebuild the city and the country) has not lost its appeal . In combination with an aesthetics that links the older colonial modernist models to the shiny looks of Dubai and other new urban hotspots in the Global South, the possibility of a tabula rasa, of starting anew and building a better, cleaner and more orderly city, simply appears to be irresistible in an urban world where holes have become the main infrastructural units. In this sense, the modernist urban planning ideals are like Bylex’s city or Doctor’s Tower. They do not make for real places in real urban futures, but they allow one to break away, at least mentally if not physically, from the city’s real condition of ongoing decline, and from the worries and ruminations that its ruination constantly generates. 88 KINSHASA REFERENCES De Boeck, F., 2011, Inhabiting Ocular Ground: Kinshasa’s Future in the Light of Congo’s Spectral Urban Politics. Cultural Anthropology 26 (2): 263-286. De Boeck, F. & M.-F. Plissart, 2014 (2004), Kinshasa. Tales of the Invisible City. Leuven: Leuven University Press. Devisch, R., 1998, La violence à Kinshasa, ou l’institution en negatif. Cahiers d’études africaines 38 (150-152): 441-469. Lagae, J., 2002, Kongo zoals het is. Drie architectuurverhalen uit de Belgische kolonisatiegeschiedenis (1920-1960). Ghent: University of Ghent (doctoral dissertation). Lusamba Kibayu, M., 2010, Évolution des pratiques de sécurisation des conditions de vie dans trois quartiers populaires de Kinshasa: Enjeux et conséquences de la production spatiale et sociale de la ville. Louvain-la-Neuve: Presses universitaires de Louvain. Newell, S., 2012, The Modernity Bluff. Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press. Van Synghel, K. & F. De Boeck, 2013, Bylex’s Tourist City: A Reflection on Utopia in the Postpolitical City. In: E. Pieterse & A. Simone (Eds.), Rogue Urbanism. Emergent African Cities. Johannesburg: Jacana Media. NOTES 1 The ‘Tower’ video-installation and the photographs by Sammy Baloji result from two Kinshasa research trips that Baloji and anthropologist Filip De Boeck made together in March 2013 and March 2015. De Boeck and Baloji are currently working on a joint exhibition and book project about new urban publics and spaces in Congo. 2 Also see De Boeck & Plissart 2004: 29 for a photo of the Forescom Tower. 3 The largest erosion holes are given personal names, such as the libulu Manzengele in the municipality of Ngaliema. This particular hole became so famous that its name was adopted by a Congolese nightclub in Bobigny, Paris. 4 Wenze ya libulu, the ‘market of the hole’ is a market place in the municipality of Barumbu, but more generally it means an ‘informal’ market where things are sold under the official price (see Lusamba Kibayu 2010: 314). 5 One may refer here to the massive lootings that swept across the city and the country in the early nineties (cf. Devisch 1998). 6 The mayor of Lemba even painted the slogan ‘Lemba is Paris’ above the entrance of the municipality’s administrative headquarters. Similarly, on Facebook, one finds several pages called ‘Lemba c’est Paris’ or ‘Bandal c’est Paris’. The notion of mimesis in the postcolonial context deserves a more thorough treatment than what is possible here, but for some interesting reflections on the qualities of the mimetic in relation to modernity (in the context of Abidjan) see Newell 2012. On Kinshasa also see De Boeck and Plissart 2004: 20ff ). 7 In Kinshasa, the idea of a resort-like ‘kingdom of pleasure’ materialized most strongly in Mobutu’s own Chinese palace, built on the presidential site of Nsele, north of Kinshasa’s national airport along the Congo River. The palace itself is now an abandoned ruin.
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