Emcees in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) are in a state of emergency, as the government has censored all Congolese
rap groups and foreign music.
The Committee of Censorship instituted the ban
earlier this month, claiming that the music is ‘obscene and violent, and
causes the youth to behave badly.’
Congolese rappers have united in an effort to
stop the crackdown, which the government
is taking serious.
According to one account, the program director
of privately owned Tropical Channel TV
in the capital city of Kinshasa, was detained for several hours last
week for violating the ban.
It took the intervention of Congolese President
Joseph Kabila to set the man free.
Africanhiphop.com has launched a petition of
the decision to present to the Censorship
Committee that they hope will reverse the decision.
“This situation brings to mind the ban of
rap music and clips on the islands of Zanzibar,
Tanzania which came into effect around 1999 but was lifted when the
new government came into place in 2000,” the webmaster for the site wrote.
“Ironically it was our documentary ‘Hali Halisi – rap as an alternative
medium’ which got the attention of the local government as it featured
critical comments of emcees about the political elite.”
Local rapper Guderian Bakielemeso a.k.a MAD is
studying abroad in Europe and represents
Congolese groups PNB and KMS.
He said that the local rappers are trying to
assert their rights, but no one will listen.
The rappers fear that censorship will ultimately lead to suffering.
"We are no more in the 1980s, when Congo
was under the influence of dictator [Joseph]
Mobutu,” MAD said.
Mobutu took permanent control of the DRC in 1965
and amassed a personal fortune worth $4 billion dollars. He was accused along
with the CIA of playing a role in the assassination of the country’s first Prime
Minister, Patrice Lumumba.
Laurent Kabila, who worked with Che Guevera,
assumed power after Mobutu passed away in exile 1997, but he was shot in the
presidential palace in Kinshasa in January of 2001. His son, Joseph, assumed
“Right now Congo has a democratic constitution;
we are in the age of development and evolution.
Nowhere in the world has a nation censored ‘foreign
music’. Variety of culture allows development in a country. While rap
is now in full development in Congo and growing to be among the best scenes
in the whole of Africa, the national commission decided to censor all these
groups. These people do not understand that they put our talents in danger.
If they are to censor, they should censor a person and his music but not
everyone. Congolese youth need amusement because they have suffered too much.”
The rappers do not understand why foreign music
was banned, but movies, which they say
show much more eroticism and violence, have not been given the
“It’s a shame in the face of the international
community to see a large country like Congo
not agreeing to international music,” MAD continued. “How are
Congolese youth supposed to integrate into the world? Instead they are limited."
The petition has been signed by thousands of
people from numerous countries who are
against the actions the government has taken.
“That is one of the tools to communicate
together all youth,” posted Prosper,
who hails from East Africa. “Please do something [to] save the music.”
Tensions are reportedly high in the DRC, as fear
of a new war with Rwanda is gripping the
country with government troops clashing with renegade soldiers on a border between
the two countries.
South African President Thabo Mbeki called the
threat of another war between the two countries
The last war that broke out between the two neighbors
drew in a half a dozen African countries
and claimed over 2 million lives, until peace was declared last
For more information and to sign the petition