Jean Euloge Samba - Congo brazzaville

Musée National du Mali

Le temps et l’imprudence, 2012

On March 4, 2012, a short circuit at one of the biggest arms depots in the Republic of the Congo triggered a series of explosions in the heart of the city of Brazzaville. Originally built outside the residential zones, this sort of strategic military site couldn’t resist the demographic pressures of the growing country that compelled people to move dangerously close to the depots, with neither security nor preventative measures in place. In Le temps et l’imprudence, the photojournalist Jean-Eu- loge Samba documents this somber episode in the country’s history, as seen by someone who lived through it.

As the explosions multiplied and the fire blazed out of control, human lives were lost, scores of people were injured, and homes were destroyed and left in ruins. By employing broad panoramic views, Samba provides the observer with a perspective that is cold, direct, unnerving. Taken directly in the aftermath of the event, these images of chaos evoke the ravages of natural catastrophes. Only this time, the cause was human.

The remaining missiles were found covered in blood, proof of the close spatial proximity between the residents of Brazzaville and the military arsenal. But the devastation was clearly unequal. While certain tanks appear largely unscathed, the bodies appear dismembered and houses appear razed. Le temps et l’imprudence is a testimony to the kind of destabilization that is the result of a country gripped by power struggles. While human lives are reduced to pawns on the government chessboard, Samba takes his photographs as the ultimate means of giving a voice to these people who are neglected by the authorities, and his art becomes a political act that demands reparations and healing.

Born in 1964 Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo –
Lives in Brazzaville

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali