Lou Jones was in Gabon in November 2018. See the gallery.

Martial Arts Classes in Gabon

Students in a Martial Arts Class in Gabon

Gabon map

gabon in africaflag of gabon


A photographer taking photos of a woman in his studio

Teaching a Photography Class in the Capital

I was invited to teach a class in a photography studio in the capital. The photographer did most of her commercial work but also taught classes. Meeting such dedicated people gave me an improved idea about the local market. Libreville.

Man talking on the phone in front of a oil pump

Oil in the Gabon Economy.

For some time lumber was the major export of Gabon. However once petroleum was discovered it has become a boon to the economy. These offshore oil rigs dot all along the coastline. Port-Gentil.

A portrait of two performers with traditional make-up

Putting the Ritual Facepaints

Before the large dance ceremony we watched these female performers apply the ritual face paints. It is such an important tradition passed from generation to generation. Franceville.

A disc jockey scratching a record

In the Studio of a DJ Scholar

We had the good fortune of photographing in the studio of this DJ, scholar, historian who has been cataloguing both traditional & contemporary Gabonese music. He & the value of his archive are well known in the region. He regaled us with many of the sounds of Africa. Mont-Bouet, Libreville.

farm in Gabon near oil well

Farmer standing in front of a gas flare in Port-Gentil, Gabon

Citizens of Gabon enjoy a relatively good economy. Oil is by far the most lucrative natural resource of the country. But making peace with her farm being next to the refinery has been difficult. Port-Gentil

Street vendors selling food to passengers on a train.

Local people told us it took 8 hours for the train from Libreville to Franceville. Buying the tickets they told us it would take 10. Eighteen hours later we arrived at our destination. The train was so slow I was often able to get off & photograph the stations.

A worker cutting down a tree

A worker cutting down a Okoume tree

Okoume is one of the most prized woods in the world. And it only grows in this part of the world. We had to travel over slick, mud covered roads to get to the lumberjacks felling the huge trees for export.

A fleet of trucks loaded with wood

A fleet of trucks loaded with wood.

It is almost as costly to transport the huge timbers of okoume wood out of the forests as it is to ship the logs to the USA. The drivers earn their wages navigating the inadequate logging roads out of the country’s interior.


Gabon is located on western coast of central Africa, bisected by the equator. It was formerly a French colony & maintains strong ties to France. About three quarters of the country is covered by dense rainforest.

Gabon Ethnic DiversityBeginning in 1961, Gabon became a republic with a presidential form of government. It has a bicameral legislature with a National Assembly & Senate.

Gabon has one of the lowest population densities of any country in Africa. More than four-fifths of Gabon’s population is urban with about half living in the largest city & capital, Libreville. Port-Gentil is the center of the country’s wood & petroleum industries. Franceville is one of the four largest cities & lies at the end of the Trans-Gabon Railway. Its infrastructure is overall of better quality than the rest of the country. 

Gabon is a large producer of lumber & manganese but since late 1960’s, revenues from oil have brought unprecedented income. It represents 70 percent of the nation’s exports. Abundant petroleum & foreign investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Membership in the French economic community gives Gabon considerable stability however lack of transportation facilities has long hindered development.

religious affiliation gabonGabon’s economy has more links with European & American markets than with its neighboring states or elsewhere in Africa with a large degree of foreign investment & control.

Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin but ethnic boundaries are less sharply drawn than elsewhere in Africa. Rich in folklore & mythology, storytellers keep traditions alive. A large majority of the population is Christian. A small segment of the population is Muslim & adherents to traditional religions also account for a small portion of the peoples.

hourglass is africa

Time is Africa

africa is the hour glass of time

marking each era with history/mystery 

every millennia with movement

certain countries are the numerals

some days 

some nights

over the centuries better times seem romantic

certain others violent

a few countries tell the wrong time

gabon is at nine o'clock

a second hand telling time more suddenly

were here to photograph modern times

but never enough time

~ Lou Jones

Gabon Gallery

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