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Faux Papiers

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I’m going to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of the month to report on the music scene there. Getting the necessary papers turned out to be miles more complicated than I’d imagined. The DRC embassy in London has been handing out fake visas: embassy employees, genuine ones, with the uniforms and everything, have been selling the real visas on the black market (to whom, I dread to think) and palming off photocopied forgeries on innocent people like me trying to get to DRC via the proper channels. Dozens of travellers from the UK to DRC have been turned back from Kinshasa airport for having fake papers. The problem hasn’t been reported in the mainstream press – this is the scoop right here. Anyone planning an autumn break in Kinshasa beware.

The upshot is I have to get my visa from Brussels (it was through a Belgian record label that I was invited to write the piece in the first place). I Fedexed my passport over to Belgium last week, with photos of myself, a yellow fever certificate and a Belgian DRC visa application form filled out in French. This should mean I’ll get a Belgian DRC visa, to be picked up in Brussels on the way to Kinshasa. I’m worried about what the Congolese officials are going to think when they see that the nationalities on my passport and my visa don’t match up. I’m scared I’ll end up in one of those little white rooms with men shining bright lights in my eyes shouting: ‘Just who are you, monsieur?’

Comments on “Faux Papiers”

  1. sean says:

    The best thing is to get a visa at the land border. I was in Goma last summer and was able to get a visa at the Rwanda border. You should be able to do the same thing from Brazzaville. Now how easy it is to get a visa to Congo-Brazzaville is anyone’s guess…

  2. gcoldham says:

    Hi to Nick Richardson
    That is amazing about fake DRC visas in London.
    Wondered if you have evidence of that.

    Did you get your DRC Visa?

    I’m planning to get to Kinshasa nxt wk.

    GC gjcoldham(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

    •  Nick Richardson says:

      The record label who sorted out my trip alerted me to the problem. They had tried to get someone else from Britain out to Kinshasa a couple of months before me and ran into trouble. Unfortunately I can’t tell you whether the situation’s been rectified. Sorry about that. I did have a fantastic time in Kinshasa though and saw some great music. They have informal concerts in the bars of N’djili almost every night which are well worth checking out. Good luck with your trip!

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