Read a report on the hidden cultural capital of Congo

The city of Goma is brimming with musical talent, and its inhabitants are keen to maintain their creative independence.

14.03.13

Words by: Aimee Cliff

A fascinating report published in the Guardian yesterday delves into the cultural hub of Congo that is the city of Goma. Rife with conflict as well as natural disasters (the city sits at the foot of two volcanoes), Goma is, despite its troubles, a rich pool of creative talent. The piece highlights the supportive projects that are springing up around the local filmmaking and musical scenes, such as the Maisha Soul studio and the Yole!Africa youth centre.

Most interestingly, locals with a stake in the arts spoke to the British newspaper about how the large presence of NGOs in Goma has a complicated relationship with its strong artistic output. According to Sekombi Katondolo, who founded the Mutaani project which aims to raise the standard of media coverage in Congo, “Most NGOs ask artists to write about their activities like against cholera, malaria and so on. It doesn’t mean this message is not welcome, but musicians should realise that this is music for food, they should not stay artists for NGOs; they should say what they believe.”

Goma-based rapper S3 later adds, “They may study our music to see how they can make us work for them, then they will decide what subjects we must talk about in our lyrics. Forget about issues that I want to sing about … I rather stay independent. You know, without the war in eastern Congo there won’t be many of these NGOs left so let us not depend on.”

Read the full article here, and watch a music video from the Salaam Kivu All Stars project below.

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