The Congolization Movement

Creating spaces where artists related to the Congolese diaspora can freely tell their side of the story.

An image of Nganji Laeh.

On January 17th, a group of local artists (Pitcho Womba Konga, Fredy Massamba, Badi Ndeka, Caroline Dujardin, Kamanda Milele, Lety Kangaka, Jack Rémy, Karim Kalonji, Christian Levo, Malkia Mutiri and myself) pulled off “the Action” in L’Horloge Du Sud, better known as the Afro-European cultural spot in the center of Brussels. The date was chosen carefully to launch the “Congolization” artistic movement while remembering the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (he was murdered by a conspiracy of the Belgian and American governments along with General Mobutu). Pitcho Womba Konga, myself and all our cultural partners wanted to promote more than ever spaces where artists related to the Congolese diaspora could freely tell their side of the story.

Patrice Lumumba (center) in 1960 in Brussels. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Three main attractions were in place :

1. The photo exhibition “Faits Divers, from Leopoldville to Kinshasa” with mixed photos from my selection and from the Royal Museum for Central Africa’s collection to help Belgo-Congolese communities deal with their past and move forward.

2. While remembering the 53rd anniversary of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination, we celebrated in our own way his universal legacy with a vibrant actualised version of Lumumba’s famous June 30th, 1960 independence speech. The words of that speech were personified by black, white and mixed-race actors. We concluded the “new” speech by paying homage to Nelson Mandela and all the freedom fighters with the call and response “Amandla !”, “Awethu!” Watch a video of “The Action”:

3. Afterwards, Badi Banx and Fredy Massamba moved the crowded L’Horloge Du sud with their thematic related songs. In the video “The Action” (above), beside extracts from the speech, you can hear Fredy’s call for “Unity” in Africa. The N.G.O. Coopération Education Culture (CEC) had installed an audio system with many headphones allowing anyone to listen to extracts from books recently written by Africans or/and about Africa.

“Congolisation” is a movement that joins forces with Africans and Europeans interested in allowing each one to tell freely her/his version of a story. In other words, The Action that took place on January 17, 2014 at L’Horloge Du Sud marked the importance of shining a cultural new light on the African diaspora in general and the Congolese diaspora in particular.

Further Reading

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