On October 2, 2006, a charter plane carrying the skeletal remains of the 19th-century Italian explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, as well as those of his wife and four children, took off from Algeria and landed at Maya-Maya airport in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo.
De Brazza’s bones were met at the airport by three African presidents, who escorted them to their new resting place, a $10 million marble and glass mausoleum built at a major intersection in downtown Brazzaville, the city that De Brazza helped found.
Many Congolese have refused to enter the mausoleum. At first, the rejection was merely a protest against the heroic veneration of a colonialist. But soon, ominous rumors started to circulate about the memorial. Talk to anyone on the street in downtown Brazzaville, and you will hear the same thing: the mausoleum is a center of kindoki, or “black magic.”
Indeed, in a country where politics is often intertwined with traditional beliefs about sorcery, the building is believed to be a kind of Skull and Bones of Equatorial Africa, a place where a shadowy African elite meets to plot the future of the continent. Anyone who enters risks coming under the spell of powerful leaders—and may not emerge alive. Hence the empty building at the heart of the city.
Know Before You Go
This building is actually located on Avenue Amilcar Cabral which is one block closer to the river.