Archive for August, 2011

Hot New Tune

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Music
A new tune from an up and coming Congolese artist by way of North Carolina, Alec Lomami…..

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Advice, General

Author – Carmen Dibaya 

A few months ago, I completed my undergraduate studies. The happiest day of my life! I was finally done with sleepless night of studying and excruciating hours spent in the lab trying to make sense of an experiment and writing up lab reports that never seem to end. I could finally put away my text books, even if just for a short while. So as I sat in the auditorium, amidst hundreds of graduates, waiting for my name to be called and to finally hold my degree, I recall the four years leading up to that moment.  I must admit that the journey had not been easy, aside from the thousands of work hours I had to put in, the hardest part I believe was living up to the expectations of my family and community members. You see, its one thing to go to school and strive to do your best, to get and maintain a good GPA and get involved in the right organizations, attend the right conferences and network with the right people, all in attempts to build up a strong resume. However, it’s another thing when you try to live up to other people’s expectations; the drive you have for yourself becomes a burden. This burden is a direct result of having other people map out the details of your future without consulting you.

When I tried to explain this concept to my American classmates, they seemed lost and unable to comprehend why anyone other than me would be so invested in what I do with my future. However, when venting to my African friends, they seem a little too familiar with the educational approach of the African family. You see, they understood where I was coming from, they knew a little too well about the frustration of having to limit yourself to the traditional professions that are considered safe and respectable by our parents’ standards, profession such as medicine, engineering, law and banking. This is one of the reasons why you rarely meet an African student majoring in any of the artistic fields such as painting, music, design, dance and theater. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the traditional professions, it’s a guaranteed job and financial security. From this sense I completely understand the African parent’s thought process; however the down part about such an approach is that it limits one’s creative abilities and locks a person’s potentiality in a box with little space to reach their full self-actualization.

So we quickly formed a bond over our “African family predicament” we opened up to each other about our dreams and deepest desires, we told each other things that we hadn’t mustered the courage to tell our families…at least not yet. For some of us this friendship became a source of comfort and for others it became the much needed dosage of self-assurance needed to branch out into fields like politics, design, advocacy and service work. We became each other’s advisors, counselors and support buddies. Although we would often laugh and cry about our problems, at the end of the day we were there to hold each other’s hand as one by one we reviled to our families that we no longer wanted to pursue nursing, medicine, but wanted to follow our passion for fashion, advocacy, by attending a fashion school, the Peace Corps, in order to polish our craft.

As we “came out of the closet” to our loved ones, we were often met with confusing stares followed by harsh words of disappointment and grief. Thus, it was crucial to have a group of supporting friends, to have people with whom you could truly be yourself, people who understood and supported your dreams. Having such a core of friends proved to be far more important, especially when the going got tough, branching out to another career field in your last year of College is not the easiest thing to do.

So sitting in that auditorium on graduation day, with no secured job, no guaranteed internship, or graduate school admission for the fall term, I didn’t feel like a failure, nor disappointed in myself for not having everything figured out. In the contrary I felt a sense of wholeness, it was more of a self realization that it was okay not to have everything figured out, that the most important thing was expressing myself in a career path that I felt most comfortable. This was a personal choice that would allow me to stay true to myself without having to live up to anyone’s expectations.

In this journey, I have realized that often times we are expected to be perfect, to make the right decisions and have everything figured out, as if we were born with the formula for success and happiness. All I know is what I have learned from my personal experience, which is this, life is a struggle…in fact, life is a pain in the ass, but the important thing is that in the midst of all that hardship, you have to always remain faithful and true to yourself. Always express yourself; no matter what people may say or do to you, there are many paths to chose from, which is right, only you can know.

Author – Joe Mulumba

Social networking is for as it says for social networking. Yes, I just did that. I just defined some words by using the same words. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see what social networking do: They provide networking opportunities for socially likable people to exchange and relate to one another. Sadly it doesn’t always happen that way. Vicious, depressed and mean people have now the ability to be vicious, depressed and mean, and they can do all this by hiding behind a screen name without fearing any retaliation. Well, they don’t always get away if someone takes the pain to find them.

Apart from that, Congolese have quickly adapted to using all sorts media outlets to share, promote, discuss, learn, and teach one another and the rest of the world about the Congolese history, culture and current affairs. Although, many are wisely utilizing the network to push forth a cause, a political campaign and or shown light to the 6 million being killed in East Congo, there are still many who are misusing this great creation. One example of Congolese misuse is, I must insist no worse than people from different countries, what happened when someone decided to attack a Congolese group on facebook and received 1478 comments and they ranged from the most vicious to the most helpful. It doesn’t take long to realize that people met on social networking websites give themselves personas that are better or worse than whom they are. For some, it is intentional while for others it isn’t. Nothing on the Internet ever goes away. It is crucial to understand that the internet is an engine that keeps track of everything that is submitted i.e. pictures, videos, and texts all of which can play to your advantage or disadvantage.

Not to dwell too much on the negative misuse of the social network, a few of our brothers and sisters are using this new technology to branch out, and become active participants of the global community. Writer, independent filmmaker and artist Sabrina Moella (http://www.sabrinamoella.com/), musician, producer, songwriter Kaysha ( link: http://kaysha.com/) , rapper and producer Baloji (link: http://baloji.com)  to name a few, have made use of this invention to put their names out there for the rest of the world, not just Congo, to learn and appreciate their musical craft. One Congolese journalist who made a name for himself in the blogging world in Africa is Cedric Kalonji( link: http://cedrickalonji.net/) who received the prize for best African journalist blogger in 2009.

There are two camps that have always been sitting on both sides of a new technology: The cheerleaders and the prophets of doom. Cheerleaders always claim that this will bring humanity closer, higher and better at fulfilling its destiny while the prophets of doom always claim the opposite. So far, paper, printing, telephone, cars, computers have enhanced modern life in ways that people who lived before any of them could comprehend. This doesn’t mean that those in power or with financial means haven’t tried over and over with each new technology to control or generate more money through these technological means. Without going too far into the conspiracy theory, Assange (link: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/12/wikileaks-evolves.html ) is a powerful figure of the anti-establishment activists on the web that this age has seen and could give you an overview of how information is power. And as you will see among the multiple news sources from Congo with their respective websites, each tries to influence its audience in one way or another. Congolese could learn about the revolutionary power of the web by looking at Wael Ghonim and his facebook group activism that started a new age for Egypt history ( link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/09/egypt.protests.google.exec/index.html?hpt=T2) or Obama’s internet campaign to win the presidential seat ( link :  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/11/propelled-by-in/)

As I tried to write a complete view of how social networking is affecting the lives of Congolese at home and in the Diaspora, I realized that it’s as absurd as trying to summarize how Internet is used by Congolese because it goes from the profane and mundane to the high brow culture and intellectual usages. The Web always promotes itself.

Apart from the listed websites, I would love to hear more about your own use of social media outlet and how they influence your everyday life such as Vimeo, Twitter, Blogs, Websites, youtube, facebook, myspace, hi5, etc…

For those who dabble in the language of Moliere: French they could take the time to check out some of these blogs I came across while writing this article:

http://www.likambote.info/about/

http://www.rdc-humanitaire.net/

http://radiookapi.net/

http://www.congoone.net/one/

http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/ (this one is in English)

http://congomikili.com/

For those who want to read more about the web and its influences, here are a few links:

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/morozov-web-no-utopia-twenty-years-short-history-internet/

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/08/23/25-things-writers-should-know-about-social-media/ : This could be applied also to anyone other than just writers.

Discovering DRC : Region of Kivu

Posted: August 21, 2011 in General

So I accidentally came across this blog, as I do many other things on the net, and I have been hooked ever since. The name of the blog itself is quite enticing in my opinion, The Displaced African. The content of the blog is all about the empowerment of the African abroad, more specifically, the African in Australia. However, the author did a series on ” 10 things I wish I knew before I left Africa”. The entire series focuses on subject areas that seem to be over looked by many Africans living back in the motherland, and also it challenges the reader to ask him/herself questions about his/her life and to seek relevance in the things done in our day-to-day life.

I was most impressed with part nine of the ten series: The West Has Many Distractions: Focus on That Which Is Important Not That Which Is Urgent. Here is what Tony Mwangi had to say on  the topic……


What Did You Do Today That Really Mattered?

Seriously? Look back over the last 24 hours and ask yourself: ” What did I do today that will matter ten years from now? What did I do today that will make my life and the lives of my neighbors better over the next few years or decades? If you answered, nothing, be scared but don’t be terrified.

Be scared because the last 24 hours have just passed by and they will never return and you did not do all that you could to make the last 24 hours magical. Don’t be terrified because you are not alone, hell, you’re in the majority.

Distractions: There are So Ma….Boy I’m Hungry

Beer advertisement

Recently, I watched a presentation in which I learned that in a given day the typical westerner is exposed to 3000 marketing messages A DAY. That is 3000 different messages all being sent to you with the intention of taking away your time, attention and money.

Now add to that the various methods of communication. First of all, there’s the Internet, where you can spend literally hours everyday editing your Facebook profile or sending hi5 friend requests or pimping your Myspace profile using videos from Youtube. Then there’s instant forms of communication like cell phones and instant messengers.And really how much of all the stuff that gets communicated through these means really matters?

Facebook profile

But of course we are Africans and human beings so eventually we have to meet up and talk face to face. What do we talk about? How to make this world a better place? No, but we will spend hours complaining about what’s wrong with it. How to have better relationships? No, but we will talk about other people’s business and how messed up their relationships are. No, but of course we talk about our lovely continent of Africa and how we will use all that we have learned in the West to make Mama Africa gorgeous? Hell no, instead we spend hours feeling self-important by spouting complex ideas and theories about how the continent is messed up and how we will take advantage of that to make a quick buck.

In short, if you want to live a life where you move from distraction to distraction, it is extremely easy. You can literally live from the cell phone to the gossip session to the Internet to the television and then to bed only to wake up, rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.

You Are On Your Death Bed

Death bed

But if you were on your death bed would you tell your wife to make sure your hi5 profile picture shows you in the best light. Will you ask your son to make sure he records Desperate Housewives and sends you the tapes in heaven? Will you ask your best friend for gossip about the latest person who has been deported so you can meet the Grim Reaper being up to date on community gossip?

The Pareto Principle

My belief is that in life, the number of areas that truly matter are probably 10 or less ( I have never done an official count). These few, out of the many that exist are the ones that will probably reminisce about in your death bed. I believe they are:

a) Health and taking care of your body; your temple.

b) Emotional health; Creating many barriers to being unhappy and making it as easy as possible for you and everyone you encounter to be happy and have piece of mind.

c) Relationships; You, your family, your community, your country, your continent, your world. How do you relate to it? What do you mean to them? What do they mean to you? Are you a servant to humanity or a liability to society? Are you God’s gift to women or more annoying than a yeast infection? Are you a reflection of just how beautiful one person can get or are you the drama queen whose fault it never is?

d) Having a purpose in life: Why do you get out of bed? What if you had all the money in the world? What would you do then? I heard a story about a man who was the CEO of a large firm that used to buy and sell companies for 100s of millions. Eventually it came time to retire. So he had his party, had his cake and said his goodbyes. Do you know what this man did the first day of his retirement? He went to look for a job. He had no purpose. No life! He was nothing outside of his work. This story could be a good one because he had something that he was so passionate about that he couldn’t bear to live without it or sad because he never really worked on having a life outside of work. What do you think of the story? Do you want to be like him? Don’t you?Why?

Is your work your purpose? Why? Do you have more to your life than just work? I don’t want to answer these questions for you, I put them here to get you thinking.

e) Your spirit: We all know that there is something that lies beyond our understanding and controls the universe and keeps it running like a well oiled clock. How connected do you feel to your God? To your spirit? To that part of you that isn’t your body and isn’t your mind but is always there watching?

I remember a now deceased singer once said that he will not be the next revolutionary but his music will spark the mind of the next revolutionary. My hope is that this article sparks your thinking and begins a revolution within you. Never forget, millions of Africans suffered and died so you could be able to immigrate to the West and learn like the Westerners do and experience what they experience. What will you do with this great gift? Will you use it? Will you abuse it?

Smiling maasai child

As I said, this post is about questions. The answers all lay with you. Anything to add? Leave a comment below or email me at masmilele@thedisplacedafrican.com. Until the next post

Be blessed + Bless others,

Mwas

http://www.thedisplacedafrican.com

Sketch of the Week

Posted: August 21, 2011 in General

This week’s sketch is of an old drawing that we are all a little too familiar with, the scramble for Africa. The reason this sketch was selected as this week’s image of the week is because of all madness presently taking place in the continent. You would think that centuries later, we would have regained what was lawfully ours, however, with the way things are going, it seems that we are slowly losing grip of our possession, in all aspect of the word i.e. political, economical, natural wealth, and along with it our self respect. 

The scramble Africa has taken a different form…beware and open your eyes because the next time you might look back, African may no longer be. 

Is African Leadership Dead?

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Advice, General

Author – Mwanana L. S. 

The political party system in our country is unfortunately regarded as an occupation rather than a responsibility. This has unfortunately motivated people to run for money as they want to get paid to escape misery, or to be greedy to gain more, or to simply have a better life. These reasons have various outcomes, but lead to one major problem which is, not having one common goal in their positions. Does anyone understand where I’m coming from? We have individuals looking for any kind of job as long as it can support their family or they seek to erase their sorrows by drowning in alcohol. The kids dream big, but I guess reality is a different thing and much harder to accomplish.

I strongly believe that the relaxed attitude towards achievement has been promoted by the ill treatment of the people in the Congo, from school teachers to politicians to the average Joe, simply for having a different opinion that opposes a much stronger rival.

The destabilizing of African minds to make them disbelieve that they can achieve greater than anywhere in the world, is a psychological factor that has led leaders, not necessarily politicians, but ones in the societies, including fathers, to aim for really low goals in whatever it is they wish to achieve. A funny but true example would be, how the ‘majority of kids want to work in a bank rather than build a spaceship and explore space’.
If such an idea was to be introduced in an African school, people around would laugh, kiss their teeth and call one crazy, simply because there is that lack of determination. From history to religion, not anywhere have I seen an African intellectual do further research to find out if all that is taught in schools is true or false, we have simply closed our eyes and decided to follow.

Africa does not have its own written history, the history that our grandparents use to tell us are post colonial stories, stories which lack the  knowledge of African ancient civilizations. The African doesn’t truly know who he or she is, everyone is trying to imitate external cultures which defy our traditional morals…these are just a few examples to explain the lost conquest of African leadership.

With so much that has happened over the years, we are all lost in a sense of paranoia and insecurity, not knowing whom to trust, from wives to husbands to police to neighbors. What is happening can be defined as complete madness.

Having watched a few videos on the bestiality that some of our brothers and sisters do in our country, it brought me back to a thought, or should I say a few thoughts…first one being, ‘what did our grandparents fight for?’…did our grandparents hate the fact that the colonial masters killed to many Africans, so they drove the colonial masters away so they could remain and enjoy killing one another because it looks better for a black man to kill a black man than a white man to kill a black man’????. ‘Should we just accept the fact that we are savages, and just let the world run until Jesus returns?’… ‘Is Jesus going to ponder on what we have done with our brains?’ My last thought is, ‘if there is a God who sent down prophets, he most definitely have along with them a set of laws and orders which would rightfully grant justice to all, but everyone is too busy being played for a fool with controlled media 24/7.
It is of course highly understandable to expect less from a country that has been disrupted for so many years…our parents ran away from the Congo so we could grow in safe environments, study well and illuminate our minds from the outside, so that one day we may bring that back to Congo.

Brothers and sisters, life is not about silver and gold, it’s about brotherhood,  love and peace…everybody wants to have a home….a home they can have a say in, shines where they feel they belong…well we belong to the Congo, and it would be pointless if the only thing we brought back to our country was a new church name and more bibles printed by I don’t know who…I think it’s time to search deep in our roots, where we will find the truth, and we shall water those roots till the tree grows mighty, bearing fruit of sincere leadership.

Nneka : AFRICA IS THE FUTURE

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Music, Videos

So every week, I go on a mission and that is to hunt the net for news, updates on current affairs and of course find new songs and discover underground artists. Music is to me, like to many, a fuel that keeps the engine of my being running. Thus, I’m very particular to what kind of music I listen to. I strongly believe that we become what we put inside of us, whether orally, by sight or by hearing it. That’s why mainstream music isn’t really my cup of tea, it lacks originality and creativity, most importantly it lacks message. In everything you do or get yourself involved in, that thing must ultimately contribute to your personal growth, it must plant a seed that will blossom into something positive and beautiful. 

So this week, on my search, I did not discover any new artist or song, however I rediscovered an artist that  I had long forgotten about, Nneka.  Listening to her songs for a second time around really moved something within me, something that I lost touch of…my core. So I want to share with you one of my favorite from her, Africans and Heatbeat.

Africans

Lyrics:

U keep pushing the blame on our colonial fathers
U say they came and they took all we had pocessed
They have to take the abuse that they have caused our present state with their intruding history
Use our goodness and nourishment in the Name of missionary
Lied to us,blinded slaved us,misplaced us,strengthen us,hardened us then
they replaced us now we got to learn from pain
Now it is up to us to gain some recognition
If we stopp blaming we could get a better condition
Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

Why do we want to remain where we started
And how long do we want to stop ourselves from thinking
We should learn from experience that what we are here for this existence
But now we decide to use the same hatred to oppress our own brothers
It is so comfortable to say racism is the cause
but this time it is the same colour chasing and biting us
Knowledge and selfishness that they gave to us,this is what we use to abuse us
Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

Those who have ears let them hear
Brothers who are not brainwashed takt ruins and rest
Pick them up and stick them back together
This is the only way we can change this african weather
Lied to us,blinded slaved us,misplaced us,strengthen us,hardened us then
they replaced us now we got to learn from pain

Wake up world!!
Wake up and stop sleeping
Wake up africa!!
Wake up and stop blaming
Open ur eyes!!
Stand up and rise
Road block oh life penalty

you got to wake up please
youuuuu got tooo
(wake up africa wake up and stop blaming)
blaming ha ha ha
open yours eyes your eyes
stand up and riise
road block oh life penalty
wake up…

Interview w/Kambale

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Advice, General

 

Interview Conducted by Carmen Dibaya

Q:  What is your full name?

My name is Kambale Musavuli.

Q:  Where do you currently reside?

I reside in New York City.

Q:  Where did you live while in Congo? If you’ve never been to the Congo, which part of the country is your family from?

I was born and raised in Kinshasa. My family is from North Kivu.

Q:  What is your current occupation?

I consider myself as a social entrepreneur and innovator taking social media tools to shine light on the issues in the Congo and get communities engaged in social justice as it relates to Congo advocacy. I work as the Student Coordinator and Spokesperson of Friends of the Congo, an advocacy group based out of Washington, DC. To learn more about Friends of the Congo, you can visit our website athttp://www.friendsofthecongo.org/ or the social justice work athttp://www.congoweek.org/

Q:  Are you involved with any Congolese based organization or groups? If so, what does the organization do?

I am primarily involved with Friends of the Congo in the work of mobilizing youth around the world to take positive action to bring an end to the conflict in the Congo. What we do at Friends of the Congo is that we raise awareness globally and we provide support to social justice groups on the ground in the hope that they in turn will serve as agents of change in the Congo.

I also serve on the board of Congo Leadership Initiative (http://www.congoleaders.org/), an organization doing youth leadership training in Kinshasa primarily. Also, I try to help any other organizations who share the same vision as I do, of a free and liberated Congo whereby the youth of the Congo are seen as the future and actors for change in the Congo.

Q:  What made you become more involved in wanting to advocate for the cause of the Congo?
There are numerous experiences in my life that made me become more involved in advocating for Congo. It will take me quite a while to describe them all. I can say that the one single experience that made me decide to become more involved was my college years at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. This university is known as the hub for social justice and activism. Remember that this is the school where the sit-ins movement for Civil Rights started. While in college, being active with my other African brothers and sisters, and my American allies, I started appreciating more the Congo. I realized that my home was so beautiful… that we had everything we needed… that we had a beautiful river… and that we had mangoes. Why mangoes? Well… if you are Congolese, there is a great chance that your house and a mango tree. I missed the Congolese mango.

In short, I became more involved to get my Congolese mango back.

Q:  Where do you see the Congo in 10 years?

It is a tricky question. I have a 20 year vision of the Congo. I actually believe that on July 13, 2031 (which is actually my 50th birthday), I will be on the Congo river celebrating the biggest birthday bash in total peace and harmony in the Congo. I have also envisioned what it will take for us to get there.

So, to cut that vision in half, I believe that in 2021 the Congo will have all its citizens focused on the reconstruction. I can see that in 2021, the curriculum in the Congo at least until 6th grade should be translated in the 4 national languages.

I can see 2021 as the year Congo will be recruiting young local Congolese to be part of the soccer team that will make it to the World Cup final in 2022. I see the Diaspora returning home to the Congo and bringing their talents and expertise back to rebuild the Congo.

I can see a change in the mentality of the youth of that time where they truly believe that they can be anything they want to be.

There are so much more that I see, but I have for now put it in the book I have been writing. As I share this with firm conviction that it can happen, I hope that many more Congolese will join me in making the vision a reality.

Q:  Do you think that the Congolese youth is motivated and have what it takes to change the situation of the Congo?

As a collective, the Congolese youth is still trying to form a unified voice. I’ve met many Congolese youth leaders around this country, Canada, and in South Africa. I’ve been in communication with fantastic youth leaders who are doing actions inside Congo and some who are also in Europe and Asia. We are still working hard to bring all of us together to change the situation as one group.
The challenge of the Congolese youth is that we do not know our own history. What helped me be motivated in being active to change the situation back home was the little bit of history that some elders helped me acquire. When I understood how rich the Congo is and who were the heroes of the Congo who fought since 1482 to protect our nation, that gave me courage and inspiration to also fight with whatever means I have in my disposal.

I believe that if the Congolese youth of today know the true history of Kimpa Vita, Simon Kimbangu, The Edminstons, Maria Fearing, Maman Onema, Mulele, Lumumba, Floribert Chebeya, and the network of Congolese women who have been fighting for change since the 1990s, they will also be inspired to do more.

Congo’s history has shown that our youth have what it takes to rise above any challenges. Remember our young Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960 who was only 34 years old on June 30 and inspired many young Congolese to fight Belgian Colonialism and gain independence?

I believe in our youth… I know we have what it takes. We must make it possible for us to unify the youth and things will move in a much faster pace. But, it is possible.

Q:  Are you planning on visiting/investing/ going back to live in the Congo in the future, if yes to any of this why?

Yes… there will never be a place anywhere in the world that would even come close to be my home as Congo has been. While I appreciate the opportunity of being away from Congo… Congo is my home and I will return there to live.

Why? We are indigenous people of that land. Collectively, the Congo is our land. Our ancestors fought for this land until they moved on to the next world.

We… or should I say I… can’t let go of the land of my ancestors.

As Congolese artist Lokua Kanza stated in his new song “Nakeyi kasi lobi nakozonga. Mobembo ezali nde liwa te!”

Q:  One word that describes you

Driven!