On a visit in November to Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Pope Francis went to the Koudoukou mosque in a Muslim enclave called PK5 which lies on the airport road. Many in the capital consider it to be a no-go area in an already violent city. Signs of recent conflict are everywhere: burnt-out shops, destroyed homes and makeshift markets. The Pope’s gesture of solidarity with the besieged Muslims was said to be the biggest security risk of his papacy.
The front page of a local newspaper recently called the Central African Republic ‘A Cursed Country’. The headline was written without irony and the story below was a complaint about the venality of the ruling political class and the lack of ambition among the public to make their country work.