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Adventures of a Retired Armchair Traveler
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Tue, Jan. 28th, 2014 10:23 pm

Friends and supporters, I haven't been around here regularly for a long time, but I want to bring you a chance to feel good about contributing to Didjak Munya's next project.  He has just launched an Indiegogo fundraiser to support a four-song maxi-single called K-ke (pronounced Kah-Key) and to create the accompanying videos.


English translation forthcoming, but suffice it to say, there are some great perks to be had and nothing is more fulfilling than knowing you played a role in making an amazing project happen. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below.  The songs have already been written, and using my secret access privilege, I can tell you that you will not be disappointed. The music will make you get up and get your groove on, in its Congolese-flavored, multilingual, internationally appealing approach.

Didjak is bringing together an international powerhouse of collaborators to create an amazing series of experiences, including a Senegalese beatmaker, an Ivoirian videographer and music-maker, a French mix master, and others.

Your contribution will keep the dream alive!  And you will be rewarded, whatever your level of support.

Here's a taste of last year's project, the album Oxygène, for sale on iTunes and Amazon:

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Thu, Mar. 7th, 2013 08:18 pm

Check out the new video by Didjak Munya, featuring vocalist Bill Clinton Kalonji - get up and shake that thang!

(credits to me and the rest of the "production crew" invisible...)

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Sat, Oct. 13th, 2012 02:40 pm

[Click photo to embiggen]

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Mon, Oct. 8th, 2012 11:29 am

The Francophonie Summit is this upcoming weekend in Kinshasa, preceded by a number of other events. It is held every couple of years, in various locations around the world. The "benchmarks" of the International Organization for the Francophonie are listed on their official website, and include items such as number of member states in which it is the official language (32), and total number of French speakers around the world (220 million). According to Wikipedia (link above), 

The four missions drawn by the Summit of the Francophonie are:

  1. Promoting French language and cultural and linguistic diversity.
  2. Promoting peace, democracy and human rights.
  3. Supporting education, training, higher education and scientific research.
  4. Expand cooperation for sustainable development.

As far as Kinshasa goes, this is a huge event, with a website here. Important heads of state and other authorities will be arriving. Hotels have been spruced up, and Hotel Le Fleuve, now probably the most luxurious hotel in town, was actually created in preparation for the event (and subsequently requisitioned by the Government). 

I caught a photo of someone sprucing up a building from my office building last week:


The Grand Hotel now has a display of photographs in their common areas, sponsored by the Swiss Embassy, in honor of La Francophonie. They are portraits of a Congolese born artist taken by a Swiss photographer. [If I can find links online, this entry will be updated.]

And one of the large façades on the Boulevard 30 juin, the main drag in downtown Kinshasa, features banners exhibiting a photo project entitled "Matonge à Matonge," commemorating the parallel neighborhoods in Kinshasa and Brussels. Here is a shot from user @shadowlooee on Twitter of the two images of Congolese born musician Baloji, taken by Jean Dominique Burton: 

You can even check out a video inspired by the upcoming Francophonie, describing one of your many dining options while you are in town. 


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Fri, Oct. 5th, 2012 11:36 am


Last week, I had a colleague in town from HQ, who had visited in May and was drooling in anticipation at the prospect of returning to Le Roi du Cossa, a local restaurant with a Portuguese slant whose primary menu item is cossa cossa, or freshwater prawns. The restaurant offers other dishes, but the only reason to go there is the cossa, which are offered in several manifestations: Royal (large) or medium, with butter and garlic or butter, garlic, and pili-pili (hots); and with rice, french fries, or fried plantain on the side. The only proper beverage accompaniment is local beer. 

We went all-in, some of us with the Royals and some of us with the mediums (quantity varied accordingly). A good, greasy time was had by all, and many beers destroyed. 

And the next day, my colleague had the runs. 

He was the only one of five of us, and we did our epidemiological research, comparing what each person had consumed. We could not comfortably settle on the culprit, since at least one other person had eaten the Royals, drunk the Tembo, gorged on the extra pili-pili.

I was never satisfied with the inconclusiveness, but I will tell you that he had also been drinking Nescafé at the office, and when I went to get some the next day, a temporary hire was there hosting lunch for a workshop. She heated the water for me, which she put in the electric kettle directly from the faucet. (Yes we have a large, obvious water cooler right there with safe drinking water.) Given the standard procedure of boiling water for 10 minutes, and given the drawbacks of electric kettles, which turn off just as you reach the boiling point, once I made my coffee, I let it sit on my desk till it was safe to go back and throw it away. 

My colleague, meanwhile, took Immodium, and I will go back to Le Roi du Cossa.

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Sun, Aug. 14th, 2011 10:20 pm

I discovered the link to this site through Lexxus Legal's Facebook page, which led me to this two-part post.  Both include links to videos, plus some free downloads.  This is Africa goes beyond music, but it's turned out to be a treasure trove of free downloads of tunes and mixtapes.  

1. Congolese urban music in a world of global influences (Part 1)
2. The Congolese urban music (Part 2): Modernisers of Coupé Décalé
Lexxus is mentioned in Part 1, and you can check out more of his videos here, and a short in which he talks about his mission here.

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Fri, Jun. 24th, 2011 12:59 pm

 A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced to death four policemen for killing a prominent human rights activist.

Floribert Chebeya, head of the Congolese charity Voice of the Voiceless, was murdered last June.

His body was found in the back of his car near the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, after he had been summoned to police headquarters.

Three of those sentenced to death were convicted in their absence.

According to the AFP news agency, the court heard that they were the actual killers of Mr Chebeya and were still on the run.

The court jailed another policemen for life, while three were acquitted.

Kinshasa-based correspondent Jonny Hogg told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that hundreds of people turned out at the Makala central prison in Kinshasa to hear the verdict, which took several hours to read out.

Col Daniel Mukalay, the chief of police intelligence at the time of Mr Chebeya's death, was the highest-ranking of the five policemen in the dock.

He received the death penalty for planning and directing the assassination, AFP reports.

The death penalty has not been carried out since President Joseph Kabila took power in 2001, the agency says.

Bound and gagged
Mr Chebeya, a frequent critic of the government, received regular threats in a career spanning more than 20 years.

On the day he disappeared, Mr Chebeya sent a text message to his wife saying that he was at the police headquarters for the meeting he had set up with police chief John Numbi, but was not heard from again.

The meeting with Gen Numbi never took place and his body was later found bound and gagged in the back of his car.

Mr Chebeya's driver, Fidele Bazana, is still missing.

Gen Numbi was suspended as police chief over the affair but did not face any charges.

Human rights activists are frequently harassed in DR Congo and the death of Mr Chebeya prompted widespread international criticism.

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Tue, Mar. 1st, 2011 09:32 am

KINSHASA (AFP) – Around 100 fighters were behind simultaneous attacks Sunday on the home of the Democratic Republic of Congo president and an army base that left about a dozen people dead, officials said.

One of those arrested after the assault carried a DR Congo military identity card and was a former opposition member, a government spokesman said Monday, as a UN official said some of the group may have arrived from neighbouring Republic of Congo.

The men who launched the brazen lunchtime attack, which officials have said was an attempted coup, were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket launchers, machetes and bows and arrows, the government spokesman said.

About 100 attackers split into two groups to storm President Joseph Kabila's home in the capital Kinshasa and the army's logistical base at Kokolo further south, the UN source said separately, citing security forces.

Kabila's presidential guard killed 10 of the attackers and around 30 were arrested, 16 of them on Sunday night, the UN source said on condition of anonymity.

Five Congolese soldiers were also killed, he said.

Read more...Collapse )

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Sun, Nov. 14th, 2010 12:48 pm

I do wonder when this campaign to clean up the city was initiated.  It doesn't appear to be a strong fixture, although there are people that are hired to come along and clean up some of the main streets now and again.  You can see in the ground next to the bin a ledge that is formed of dirt and trash.  Most people burn their trash here.

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Fri, Aug. 28th, 2009 12:24 pm

Here's a link to a couple minutes of footage of the visit mentioned in the press release in the previous post. You can see some views of inside the hospital.

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