Written by Gael Masengi
The music industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in ‘stand-still’ mode as the country’s political status quo remains uncertain, overseas based Congolese activists had decided to boycott until ‘further notice’ any musical activities from musicians who are stated of collaborating with the repressive regime of Kinshasa.
Multi awards winning Congolese musicians are accused of endorsing and campaigning for the embattling recently re-elected president, Joseph Kabila whom they see as a dictator and personally blame for the continuous mass rape of women and death of millions in the Eastern part of the DRC. Known as “Patriots-combatants” or “fighters”, the activists said, although music will always play a major part on Congolese culture but it has become a tool of distraction of people’s mind towards unimportant priorities and values instead of focus on finding real solutions to the country’s long-term problems.
“Politicians are using these popular musicians to distract the people from protesting and uprising against the ‘do-nothing’ government therefore we decide to cut any relation with them, we don’t want them here in France or anywhere else in Europe” said a Paris based activist. “Our sisters and daughters are being raped every 30 minutes by the rebels who are dealing with the Kabila regime and people who supposed to use their popular power [musicians] are turning blind eyes instead they praising them.”
Activists reproach the artists of being irresponsible and failing to address the real issues that the country faces rather than taking money from the same corrupted politicians, several musicians have seen their shows disrupted lately. Two times MTV awards winner and BET Awards nominee, Fally Ipupa was a victim of extreme actions from the activists as they stormed the stage and causing the concert to stop suddenly while performing in Paris’ Zenith arena. The attacks are part of a worldwide “Anti-Kabila” protest movements which saw members of Congolese diaspora in Brussels, Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna, Ottawa, Washington D.C and recently in Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa) marching against the controversial re-election of Joseph Kabila.
In Paris and London, homes of large Congolese communities were once the profitable markets of music, today turned into opposition overseas-strong hold, producers and distributors have also expressed concern of losing millions of dollars on revenue while investing on their products and one is willing to buy CDs or DVDs anymore. Popularly known as “Kwasa-Kwasa”, Congolese music had dominated the African continent since the 1950s, the charm combination of Caribbean rhythm, rumba and ‘sebene’is irresistible to the ears of many fellow Africans, concerts were money making machines as not only Congolese nationals would attend in large number on week-ends,also members of other communities but they turned to a deserted site with many fearing to be attacked by angry protesters. Musicians are willing to open a dialogue between the influential members of diaspora to bury the hatchet but the activists seem not to be ready.
Europe is not the only continent where the fighters are active. The title has almost become synonymous with Congolese in the diaspora or at home, strongly opposed to Joseph Kabila. Noted CongoForum