AmaniFestival

Playing for change, singing for peace

Illustration
Illustration

A fanfare to living togetherPublished on 13 February 2019

The French brass band Mortal Kombo knows how to set fire. Its festive style intoxicated by brass regularly make the crowds dance. Their residency at the French Institute in Goma gave rise to a beautiful get together. The young musicians selected by the cultural center have set up a fanfare together with ... soldiers and policemen.

It swings in the courtyard of the French institute! Even though Congolese music has for long handled brass with talent, it is also clear that it has left it a bit neglected. Synthesizers and percussion now dominate in a world where rumba sets the rules.

"There is a whole musical culture and knowledge that is lost, it's a shame," says Guillaume Bisimwa, director of the Amani Festival. "So we wanted to do something around these instruments.” A group of French musicians has been contacted. Their strength? They are able to mount a fanfare from a few instruments. The cultural home has therefore launched a call for musicians eager to discover new practices.

Civilians and soldiers in the same fanfare

Several enthusiasts were present. Mortal Kombo, who is accustomed to evolve in a formation of about fifteen musicians was not afraid to integrate many musicians. This is how some police and FARDC soldiers were invited to join the team!

Such a collaboration is not usual, in a country where the police is regularly pointed a finger at, accused of violating the population. "Everything is going very well, people are getting to know each other, it's good to live together," says Pinochet Kasaï, artistic coordinator of the cultural center. During the rehearsals, everything happens at best. The soldiers tease their leader when he plays a false note, deliver some sideswipes to their police colleagues, or give some advice to less experienced musicians.

"I prefer my trumpet to the AK-47"

For the police officers, it is also an opportunity to spend time with their fellow citizens, and to talk informally about their profession. Commander Jaques Teka, nicknamed Papa Sax and head of the North Kivu Police Band, takes the opportunity to talk about his job and his willingness to exercise it in a gentle way. "When we are mobilized to maintain order, in case of demonstrations for example, I always do my best to ensure that everything goes peacefully. We musicians are quiet, we do not look for confrontation. If we have to pull back protesters, we do it in a gentle and peaceful way. They are our fathers, our mothers, our children ... I take advantage of each of my meetings with my fellow citizens to remind them of this."

The first FARDC sergeant Mustafa Tambwe also enjoys havng time to share with the musicians of Mortal Kombo and the artists from the cultural center. "I am a soldier, and I execute the orders of my superior," he says. "It's more fun to play music than to be at the front. I handle the trumpet as well as the AK-47, but I prefer the trumpet!"

Find Mortal Combo and dozens of other artists in the programme of the 2019 Amani Festival!