"The Weekend Read": Depara and Kinshasa

By: Deonta Wortham

"You have to know where you've come from to know where you're going," it is an old adage that a first appears as a lifeless cliche. We have all heard someone quote this short phrase at one time or another, and have inadvertently gazed over its importance.

But when truly thinking of its meaning, when delving into the core of this worn-out phrase, we can see how today has been shaped by choices made years ago.  

Our history truly = who we are. All the ups and downs, successes and failures, joys and pains, are collectively revealed in our present reality.  



So this read, in the sprint of retracing one city's "ancestry," we'll take a look at the work of Jean Depara (aka Depara - because all cool people eventual go by just one name) a native of Angola who worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented the vibrant night life of Kinshasa during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Depara's work is mesmerizing. Gazing at every frame you are drawn into the distinct beauty of a bustling metropolis, the people that serve as its pulse, and the remarkable feeling of grit that is only adequately seen in a 1950s bar. 

Depara's ability to capture the ordinary in a manner that highlights so much more is truly what distinguishes his work for so many comparable photographers from this period. It's said that a picture tells a thousand words. . . well Depara's pictures clearly illustrates the story of an entire era. 

This is the Kinshasa that the novelist Achilles Ohoye would call "Kin-the-joy. Kin-the-madness."  

Take a few moments to enjoy the Kinshasa of days gone by.