Located about 360 kilometres west of Lubumbashi, in one of the richest mining basins in the world, Kolwezi was officially created in 1937 by the settlers to house the headquarters of the Haut-Katanga Mining Union. This Far-West-looking yet dynamic city perched on the Manika plateau, at an altitude of about 1460 metres, has unwittingly entered history for almost half a century… Visiting Congo and discovering this effervescent city for the first time in his life, photographer Yann Macherez shares his logbook. Welcome to Lualaba!
A LITTLE HISTORY
1906, the minerals rush
The existence of Lualaba province is linked to that of Haut-Katanga, to which it has belonged for decades as a district or sub-region. Located in one of the richest mining basins in Katanga, the city of Kolwezi will be created thanks to copper and cobalt mining by the Union Minière du Haut Katanga (U.M.H.K). The important gold deposit of Rwe, now Mutoshi, was discovered in 1903. In 1906, there was a minerals rush and Mutoshi and Musonoï experienced spectacular development. It was then that the settlers thought of creating a modern European city. On 5 January 1963, Lualaba was erected as a province for the first time, with Kolwezi as its capital and Dominique Diur as governor. Today, Kolwezi has a population of about 2.5 million inhabitants, over an area of 121,300 km².
A rich and tumultuous history
Rich and tumultuous, Kolwezi’s history was written around the great migrations, the genesis of Luba empires, the arrival of the first Europeans and explorers (Verney Cameron, Henry Morton Stanley), the Tshokwe kingdom and the reign of King M’Siri, the arrival of the Stairs expedition in 1891, and the beginning of the Bayeke dynasty.
Research has shown the presence of populations in the Neolithic era. The Bantus, who populated the region during the Iron Age, really contributed to its development. From the 8th to the 18th century, the region was marked by the imprint of the Luba empire. The kingdom was founded in the 16th century by Yala Puaka. In 1650, King Mwant Yav, who then ruled the largest kingdom in the savannah, founded the first Luba kingdom with Musumba as its capital. The kingdom under the authority of a single sovereign became a real empire. Today, His Majesty The Mwami Mwenda Bantu Kaneranera Godefroid Munongo Jr. occupies the throne.
Of unequalled beauty and potential, the province of Lualaba is filled with an abundance of mostly untapped natural resources (waterfalls, parks, caves, rocks, mountains and hills, fauna and flora, plateaus, waterfalls, rapids, lakes, beaches, mines, etc).
There are many ways to get to Kolwezi. By road on a bus or car or by plane. From Lubumbashi, small carriers serve Kolwezi daily with one or two rotations.
Congo Airways www.congoairways.com
Air Fast Congo www.airfast-congo.com
Classic Coach +243 996754810
Kampi Ya Boma
+243 992663579 – [email protected] – www.copperbeltlodges.com
+243 993620063 – [email protected]
Fit & Food Health Center
+243 975106117 – +243 990677328
Taverne La Bavière
Bars & Nightlife
Six Seven +243 853210605
Antoine Bel +243 976607930
Chez la Villageoise +243 810884343
Kolwezi in the 50s – George Antippas aux éditions Weirich Africa