Congolese Government Bans Rap And Foreign Music

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

power.

“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

same treatment.

“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

“potentially catastrophic.”

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

year.

For more information and to sign the petition

visit: http://www.africanhiphop.com/congoact/

Related Stories