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Gabon: Illicit bars pop up amid Covid-19


In Gabon, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted people’s daily lives.

For the past three months, bars, restaurants and nightclubs have had to keep their doors shut. However, behind the scenes, good times continue to roll in the working-class neighbourhoods.

In Libreville, illicit bars where friends can get together for a drink or two are beginning to appear.

“We know that there are thousands of people in the markets, but they are not stopped from going there, so why the bar, why the bars where no more than two, three or five people are going to meet?” said an anonymous man.

Alba has been running a bar for three years. The only source of income for this mother who must continue to pay the rent for her bistro. With the restrictions of Covid-19, she had to adapt.

“When they made it stricter, when total lockdown arrived, I couldn’t run my bar any more, I was forced to go to a plan B, which was to sell at home,” said Alba

Since the 1970s, Libreville has been experiencing rapid urbanization. Due to lack of space, the poorest people are crammed into the hollow of its hills. Housing is cramped, poorly ventilated, so the bar is a place of escape and sometimes even an outlet according to Jean-Emery Etoughé-Efé, sociologist at the National Centre for Scientific Research of Gabon.

“When the authorities decide to close the bars, it did not go down well simply because it seems like a restriction of a way of life that is taken for granted.”

Far from being just a place of entertainment, these illicit bars are also a place of networking. With more than 4,000 cases of coronavirus in Gabon, illicit bars continue to serve a clientele who see no reason for bars to remain shut.


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