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Underground Bars Mushroom in Gabon’s Informal Settlements

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. 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. 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.