DRC Independence Day

Sapeurs-by-DT

 The Democratic Republic of Congo celebrates its independence today. Situated at the heart of Africa, the DRC shares borders with the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Angola. No wonder it's such a vibrant melting pot of cultures, arts and style! 

Above, images of  Sapeurs, devoted fashionistas despite circumstance, taken by photographer Daniele Tamagni (more of her Sapeur portraits can be seen in her book Gentlemen of Bacongo).

The home of soukous, N'dombolo and African Rumba, Congolese music has been a favourite across the continent and beyond. Here are our picks for the day!

The beautiful Queen of Congolese rumba, M'bilia Bel:

The "Sorcerer of the Guitar", Franco:

Koffi Olomide

Awilo:

Dancing maniacs and nephews of Awilo, Kenyan-based Longombas:

Influenced by several different African and Caribbean music styles, the popular Jessy Matador:

And the appropriately named, Independence Cha-Cha (thanks to African Digital Art for putting me on to this):

LE JOUR D'APRES / SIKU YA BAADAYE (INDEPENDANCE CHA-CHA) from BALOJI on Vimeo.

Blessed with a diverse wealth of resources, the DRC has been exploited by foreign and local agents alike and as a result, armed conflict has ravaged the area before it was even defined by its current boundaries. The DRC is the unfortunate site of the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, which was largely ignored by the international community despite its death toll of over 5 million people over 5 years. Officially ended in 2003, the effects of the conflict are still profoundly felt in the fragile state.

A transcript of Patrice Lumumba's revolutionary speech at the Proclamation of Independence, 50 years ago today, is available here. A video with the audio and English subtitles can be viewed below.

If you want to get involved in creating positive change in the DRC and Great Lakes region, consider checking out Save the Congo. An independent, not-for-profit and non-political global campaigning organisation dedicated to highlighting the suffering of the Congolese people and highlighting the country's creativity, culture and potential. The organisation's mission statement is "to change social conditions, and historical and political ignorance that often breaks harmony and peace within and between communities as to bring about a Congo, and indeed a Great Lakes region, at peace with itself." Save the Congo is also on facebook.

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