Writing on the wall: Congolese murals counter COVID-19 denial

After decades of perceived misrule, the political elite is seen by many as corrupt and untrustworthy.

To help counter the mistrust, a group of 10 artists has painted the wall around the capital’s Academy of Fine Arts with 12 murals illustrating the need for people to take action.

Some rework religious motifs, while others are splashed with bright colors to draw people’s attention. In one section, people bump elbows in greeting, in the background the virus is locked behind the bars of a jail cell.

Prisca Tankwey’s contribution depicts six wooden statues, iconic symbols from Congo’s pre-colonial culture, washing their hands and performing other tasks to guard against the disease.

A nkisi-nkondi, an idol whose protective spirit is said to be activated by hammering a nail into its body, is shown donning a mask.

“That is the main message, the message of protection,” Tankwey said, applying the last dabs of paint. (Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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