Bissau—the “dark” capital

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Light pollution is not really an issue in Bissau, the capital of the small West-African country of Guinea-Bissau. Not only the sky is dark at night, but also the roads and most homes.

Many years back, when it was still the capital of Portugal’s overseas province Guiné-Bissau, it had street lights and a functioning electrical network. The present electricity pools, with ends of wires dangling and leaning candelabras, are a sad reminder. A fierce, thirteen-year armed struggle for independence, and subsequent multiple civil wars, brought an end to most of the city’s infrastructure.

As a result, as soon as the sun settles on the horizon around 6:30 PM, the city quickly sinks into darkness. Often, the only light seen is from the criss-crossing headlights of passing cars, the occasional flickering coal fires from the food vendors grilling fish or kebabs along the road, and the few shops and restaurants that are connected to private generators. Walking through the streets either by day or night, a constant hum from these generators follows you.

However, all is not dark!

Under the sponsorship of the Evangelical Church of Guinea-Bissau (IEGB), translations of two New Testaments are in production, and translation of an overview of Bible stories is underway in two more languages. As a OneBook Program Manager, acting as liaison between the Church here in Guinea-Bissau and donors in Canada, I know I also play a small part in bringing light to this dark place.

The true light—the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives light to everyone—is reaching more and more of the 25 people groups of this African country.

–Martin Engeler, OneBook Program Manager