FairTunes is supporting our friends at Bollo Brook Youth Centre by promoting this inspirational project – a unique music collaboration between young people from a South Acton estate and the war-torn Kivu district of the Eastern Congo which has resulted in a release of an 11-track music album called ‘Acton2Kivu: Dance for Freedom’. The album costs £7 and all proceeds go to Congo In The Picture. Listen and buy it here.
Since August 2012, young people from Bollo Brook Youth centre in South Acton, London have been working in collaboration with young people in Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, to produce an album that brings together the best of youth music culture from the two areas. Working with grassroots organisation Congo In The Picture via the internet, the young people have come together through music to create a unique and inspirational album of original music that explores a wide range of genres and styles.
Colin Brent manages the Bollo Brook Youth Centre.
Many of our young people have family connections to Africa and one of our performers has Congolese parents, but few of us knew the sheer scale of what was going on in Kivu until we started working on creating the album. The conflict in Eastern Congo is often called the ‘forgotten war’, but our project might help to raise some awareness and some money.
The performers didn’t meet each other. Instead they co-operated on the tracks by sending them back and forth digitally until both sides were happy with the finished result.
While the music is uplifting, the circumstances in which it has been made have often been complicated, at times tragic. the recording of the tracks continued through the rebel uprising in Kivu by the M23 militia. The militia first surrounded, and then occupied the city of Goma, where the congolese music for the album has been produced. In the chaos that ensued, the music studio there was sacked and vital equipment stolen. However, despite this setback, the constant electricity blackouts and further militia attacks, this album is testament of the power of music to bring people together and shine through the worst periods of adversity. Tragically, while the album was in the final stages of production, the young congolese rapper Safari was killed in a militia raid on his village, mutarule. He features on the song Stand up. the album is dedicated to him, as a representative of the millions who have shared his fate.
The finished album is a melting pot of different musical genres including hip-hop, rap, traditional west African music, afrobeat and R ‘n’ B and features lyrics in English and Congolese and it speaks out about the contributor’s experiences and hopes for the future. The music is now on sale and all funds raised will go towards supporting Congo in the Picture
Kashindi Pierre is the project manager for Congo in the Picture.
This project plays a very crucial role in restoring peace in the region because during conflict, young people are both used to create conflict, whilst also being the victims of these conflicts. That’s why Congo In The Picture focuses on young people to fight against conflict and provide new directions for their future – why not transform them into peace makers?
For the Congo, this project is very important because it embodies the goals we have set; those of advocating for peace through many activities, including music. For young Kivu, this project gives them an overview of how professional music is made. Others have been amazed to see the song they sang in has been mastered in Europe, because there is not a studio worthy of the name in the region, despite the creativity in many areas. This will help them become more involved in the efforts of Congo In The Picture to restore peace in the region.
The music is one way that can create work among youth because many of them join the armed groups by the lack of employment.
To download the album, go to the Dance For Freedom page. All money raised with go to Congo in the Picture.