Mindoumbe – death by a slow burn / Guillaume Darribau
credit: Guillaume Darribau/Fractures Photo Collective
Mindoumbe- Death by a slow burn.
In Mindoumbe, suburb of Libreville (Gabon), is a smoldering mountain. Inside the mountain is a self consuming fire.
In wooden shacks informally built at the bottom of this mountain of waste and survive hundreds of people amidst the garbage of Libreville.
More pictures from a landfill and its people? Yes. Perhaps a history of poverty in an African country? Yes. But the real question is, does Mindoumbe really exist?
Or, perhaps the real question is … why a country like Gabon said that “emerging”, with its large oil industry, 600 million euros spent hosting the African Cup of Nations, which has a timber industry, mining , tourism, which is an engine for Central African countries, can deal with the basic problems of its inhabitants? Access to drinking water, to health care, food …
Is this a naive question?
I do not think so, Gabon is headed for 40 years under the Bongo family, from father to son.
Every industry and most important companies in the country are headed directly or indirectly by the Bongo family and its allies.
AIR GABON was previously headed by Christian Bongo, a son of the late President Omar Bongo.
What about income from manganese, uranium and other resources used by the COMILOG()? Before, these revenues all went to the private accounts of OMAR BONGO (according to the opposition). Omar shared some of this income from his drills between his son and Defense Minister Ali Bongo (current president, 200,000 ha), his brother in law Paul Toungui (chief of staff of his father 56,800 ha), his first wife, Cecilia Ndjave Ndjoy (presidential chief of staff, 108,200 ha) … etc.
Omar Bongo, now deceased, is being investigated in France by a survey of “ill-gotten gains”. An investigation that looks to verify the source of funds used to purchase real estate and furniture.
There is a direct link between the profits of the enterprise “Total”(French multinational), which drills dirty Gabonese oil, and Mindoumbe. there is a direct link between the support of various French governments to the family Bongo and Mindoumbe. there is a direct link between the Chinese colonization of Gabon and Mindoumbe. There is also a direct funding from the UN Development given in Gabon by the international community and Mindoumbe.
For the west its always easier to denounce a dictator than to face its own responsibility in supporting said dictatorships. Our western wealth is directly related to the situation of the inhabitants of Mindoumbe.
As as a photographer I could denounce an unbearable situation without questioning my lifestyle. I could feel good about my critique if I didn’t pause to ask more questions.
I wouldn’t ask these questions if I didn’t think the country could afford the economic, political, structural, civil changes to end the extreme poverty that affects many of its citizens.
Mindumbe is not just a dump, it is a symbol of the “non-emergence” of a wealthy, corrupt and dictatorial Gabon.
This mountain of smoking garbage, toxic is an aberration, a tumor, a small fire that kills hundreds of people, an abandoned area. People recycle food, metal, glass, plastic and also drugs. All the bins arrive here in Libreville, not only household waste but also industrial, and medical.
The discharge operates 24h/24h. Residents have organized rides day and night for all to “win” their survival.
Having collected and sorted garbage, they sell them for a few hundred francs CFA to intermediaries.
Since “the island of flowers” not much has changed in landfills in the world, other documents have denounced, and shown. My pictures are further evidence, I know full well it will change nothing in the lives of Mindoumbe, but I hope perhaps, naively that they can be used to provide an understanding of not only a situation, or a place but presents one simple question. Are we are not in some way responsible for part of this tragedy. We in Western countries that participate in the corrupted systems in countries like Gabon.
Mindoumbe photos were not shot to reinforce the idea that Africa as a continent only poor and corrupt. Rather I hope you’ll be put face to face with our responsibilities. And to reveal that our governments and multinational companies allow the corrupt to plunder and impoverish the populations of African countries.
In Mindoumbe burns a small fire. burns a small fire in a suburb of Libreville and we are all responsible for this disaster just as much as the Bongo family, and French and other governments, and the “TOTAL”‘s of the world.