Rapper Alec Lomami’s photo series from Kinshasa are his love letter home


On a recent trip back to Kinshasa, Congolese rapper Alec Lomami took this series of images to try and express the real beauty of his home. Born in Belgium, raised in DRC and currently residing in the US, Lomami has experienced Africa from inside and out and felt compelled to redress the extremes of perceptions all around him with this analogue visual diary.

"I was trying to take a picture of my aunt because she has this beautiful afro,” Lomami explains of how the series started. “She wouldn't let me though, telling me she wasn't presentable. She jokingly told me: ‘Are you taking my pictures so you can show people how we suffer here then solicit donations to create an NGO?’ That interaction made me think of the conversations underway surrounding the negative portrayal of Africa. Even heads of state refer to nations in Africa as shitholes,” he says.

“As a counter, there has been a rise of publications whose aim is to show the continent is a positive light. Who can blame them? Sometimes, however, it feels like portrayals have moved to the other side of the same coin. The Africa that I know isn't binary. It isn’t the idealised Wakanda or the wild jungles tales of Tarzan. So as I was taking photos in Kinshasa, I wanted to capture the city as it is rather than as I (or anyone else) thinks it ought to be. The truth is we have beautiful homes as well as shacks, we have asphalt roads as well as dirt roads. I think the amalgamation of the polarities and everything in between is what makes Kinshasa what it is - Kin la Belle.”

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Published on 26/05/2018