A Devastating Storm in the Kimwenza Plateau, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Boarding School area of the Lycée
    Boarding school area of the Lycée
  • Great Hall of the Lycée
    Great Hall of the Lycée
  • Boarding School area of the Lycée
    Boarding school area of the Lycée
  • Boarding School area of the Lycée
    Boarding school area of the Lycée
  • In front of the community
    In front of the community
  • Novitiate

Christian Nzuzi Lukoki, a teacher at the Lycée of Kimwenza, describes the devastating storm that hit the Kimwenza plateau, home to many schools, on Monday, March 18, 2024.

On Monday, March 18, 2024, torrential rain and the storm that blew over part of the Mont Ngafula commune hit the Kimwenza plateau, home to many schools, very hard. The area is currently paying a heavy price for this climatic fury. It was a very sunny day on that Monday in the second half of March. In the morning, classes at the Lycée of Kimwenza and other nearby schools went on as normal, until the pupils were dismissed at around 1:00 pm. At around 3:00 pm, the sky suddenly became cloudy. Then the rain began, accompanied by a very violent storm that caused enormous material damage. The Kimwenza plateau has never seen nature unleashed with such fury in living memory. In the aftermath of the disaster, the after-effects of the trauma are palpable in the gloomy faces of some students and even the authorities.

You only have to go there to be convinced of the extent of the damage, which is visible everywhere: roofs of dormitories and classrooms blown away, a multi-purpose hall damaged, boreholes and water tanks destroyed, water pipes cut, electric kettles out of action, boarders' belongings damaged, a fence wall collapsed, branches torn off, trees uprooted, solar panels in tatters, etc. It's like being in the USA, the Caribbean or the Philippines, where these devastating winds cause repeated material and human damage. On the convent side, the novitiate of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was seriously damaged, with its roof torn off. In the same vein, the Ntemo I and II elementary school also suffered extensive damage. At Collège Ndinga Mbote, the situation is just as bad as it is dramatic. The roofs of the boarding school building, classrooms and teachers' houses are gone.

All in all, destruction on an unprecedented scale was seen in the plateau's schools. In the Kikongo language, Kimwenza means "City of Saints". No doubt the saints played a major role in protecting human lives. In fact, despite the violence of the storm and its trail of damage, miraculously no injuries or loss of life were recorded. What's more, the schools on the Kimwenza plateau are currently in a state of disrepair, making it technically impossible for them to function as usual.  Fortunately, a number of authorities were present this morning. Let's hope that the report they will send to their higher-ups will soon be used to find an appropriate solution for the schools impacted by the disaster.

The storm may have passed quickly, but the bitter memories and, above all, the damage left behind are considerable. This reopens the debate on the thorny issue of climate change and the devastating consequences it is causing across the planet.

Christian Nzuzi Lukoki
Teacher at the Lycée of Kimwenza