The statue has been there for fifteen years: six metres of white marble, guarding the small garden and the entrance to the mausoleum. He has bare feet, a long stick in his right hand and a turban framing his face – a unique look among other known portraits, but one that gives an idea of the person depicted. Pietro Savorgnan di Brazzà (1852-1905), the French-Italian explorer who, in 1880, made a friendship pact with King Makoko, ruler of the Teke, and paved the way for the arrival of the French on the right bank of the Congo River.
More than a century has passed, the world has changed, and colonialism is long over. The river separates two countries with names that overlap and often cause confusion in those unfamiliar with the regional map. On one side is the former French Congo, and on the other is the Democratic Republic of Congo, once occupied by the Belgians. Brazzà stands there, celebrated by a country that even named its capital, Brazzaville, after him, and that placed a statue and a commemorative mausoleum for him on the riverbank in 2006. Now, a new building is being dedicated to him, built next to the Memorial and inaugurated on 24 February.