Congolese documentary photographer Victoire Douniama recently moved back to her home country to tell the story of the exciting and beautiful Congo-Brazzaville. Read on to discover more...
Hi, my name is Victoire Douniama and I am a documentary photographer. I’ve always had an interest in art ever since I was a kid. I also paint as a hobby, and I am currently based in Congo Brazzaville.
What brought you to Congo-Brazzaville?
After years of living and studying in South Africa, I decided to move back to Congo and establish my career as a photographer here. Being Congolese and a documentary photographer I think that I can use my talent and skills to better portray and tell the story of my country.
Tell us a little about your background as a documentary photographer and living between South Africa, Kenya, and Madagascar.
My interest in photography started when I was in 10th grade in South Africa, I was mostly into street photography then. I still am, but right now I've chosen to document the culture, people and talent of my country. Living and travelling to different places has inspired my art work and helped me capture many intriguing moments.
What is it you love about documenting cultures in Africa?
What I love most about documenting different cultures is that it inspires me a lot and makes me appreciate being African even more. Our culture, people, food and clothing is so different and beautiful in its own unique way.
What was your approach to photography when you traveled to your home country?
When I first moved to Congo I was very excited because I could finally engage myself into showing the world that there is so much more than the poverty and underdevelopment in Congo. We have a very unique culture and people that are so welcoming and talented, and I feel that it is important for me as a documentary photographer to contribute to showing the side of Congo that is often ignored in the media.
What recommendations do you have for people interested in traveling to the city of Brazzaville (places to go, things to see, foods to eat etc.)?
For people traveling to Congo I would recommend that you visit our local markets which are filled with local handmade jewels, African print clothing, and many more interesting local souvenirs. You can also enjoy your days at the beach in Pointe Noire as the weather tends to get a bit hot. When it comes to food I would recommend you visit some of our local restaurants such as “Mami Wata” this restaurant is one of my favourite spots as you can have a beautiful view of the sea and our neighbouring country Congo Kinshasa. Last but not least you can go for a boat ride and enjoy a beautiful view.
What are some common misconceptions of Congo-Brazzaville that you’d like to address?
One common misconception of Congo Brazzaville I would say, is that there aren't many activities to do. First of all, that is not true. Congo Brazzaville isn’t the most developed country that I’ve been to but it has so much to offer. It is a beautiful country that needs to be portrayed the right way. There are many tourist sights and exciting locations both in the city and rural areas. It’s a dream!
What was your favorite cultural experience in Congo-Brazzaville?
My favorite cultural experience in Congo so far has to be the art work. I am currently part of a painting class in “L’école des beaux art de Poto Poto”. I have met amazing people there that are very talented as well.
Which cities/regions have you visited in Congo-Brazzaville and which would you recommend to travelers?
I have only visited Pointe Noire so far as I am based in Brazzaville and I often find myself in a tight schedule. But I would recommend Pointe Noire, Pointe Indiene, Ouesso, and Oyo. These are beautiful places to visit if you are in Congo.
Please share the story behind your favorite image that you captured in Congo-Brazzaville.
My favorite image in Congo has to be capturing the Congo dandies also known as “Les Sapeur” for the documentary project I worked on. The project is about Sapeurism—a fashion movement that is found in Congo. It is quite interesting and fascinating to see.
What’s next for you?
Currently I am working on a commission to travel to all cities and rural areas in Congo for a book. So that is an exciting project that I have started working on and will share on my website and social media platforms soon.
For more of Victoire's travels, follow her instagram @victoirephotography
Images courtesy of Victoire Douniama
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