Close Your Heart


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September 2, 2014

By James Verini

CENTRAFRICA-UNREST Even by the standards of Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic and one of the poorest cities in the world, Saïdou is poor. Unlike the districts around it, with their neatly packed-in houses behind walls and gates, Saïdou, which occupies an oblong dirt plot near the city center, resembles a slum in a less orderly African city like Kinshasa or Lagos. That is another way of saying it resembles a village. There are no walls or gates. The one-story cinderblock homes face one another at strange angles. You go between them on dirt paths or by stepping through the undergrowth and over rivulets of gray water. To access Saïdou, you make a quick turn off the Avenue des Martyrs, slipping between a pair of high-rises. The high-rises are falling apart, and their residents are poor, too; but when they look down on Saïdou, they thank God, and the martyrs, for their luck. See Full Story