From Ndombolo to Scooby-Doo: Congolese musicians in the UK re-create home whilst finding their own voice

McGuinness, Sara ORCID: (2015) From Ndombolo to Scooby-Doo: Congolese musicians in the UK re-create home whilst finding their own voice. In: 31st European Seminar in Ethnomusicology, 16-20 Sept 2015, Limerick, Ireland. (Unpublished)

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is famed for producing vibrant and powerful music, which has fond popularity pan-Africa (Ewens 1986, Stewart 2000, White 2008). However, the long history of unrest in the country has had far-reaching consequences. These include the emergence of large communities of Congolese throughout the Diaspora and complicated relations between Congolese at home and abroad.

In this paper I turn my attention to the Congolese community in the UK and in particular three central characters in the Congolese music scene. Whilst the UK is not one of the main centres of migration for Congolese, who naturally gravitate towards Belgium and France, there is a sizeable community here with a vibrant music scene.

Eugene Makuta is hailed as one of the top singers in the UK, he works as a team with Iddo le Roi Solomon, a talented dancer and singer. Also resident in London is Kiamfu ‘ Burkina Faso’ Kasongo ,a guitarist who played a central role in the development of Congolese music . I reflect on the role of these musicians in the development and recreation of Congolese music in the UK, with a focus on the ‘Seben’, the extended last section of a Congolese song. In the Seben the lead guitar comes to the fore and the singers execute choreographed dance moves in response to the cries of the ‘Atalaku’ (half sung, half rapped vocal style). In Congo there is intense competition between bands to invent and develop new dance moves, these moves quickly spread throughout Congo and the Congolese Diaspora. Critics say that the UK musicians are stuck in a time warp, recreating old moves and not moving forward. I argue that they play a dual role, both recreating home for a disenfranchised audience and developing their own moves expressing their identity as Londoners.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Performing arts
Depositing User: Sara McGuinness
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 15:28
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 15:45


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