Since returning to Kigoma, Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in central Africa for my Fulbright research, I have been looking for two of my Congolese friends. I was told that they crossed the Lake, and returned to two of the cities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to live– to be together with their family and relatives.
People should not be reduced only to suffering, and narratives only to exodus, which I recognized in my anthropology classes at California State University, Chico. Nevertheless, many popular media narratives, especially those coming from the West, reduce Congolese in eastern Congo only to victims, without agency or the power of creation. Still border areas are not like the interior or coastal areas of nations. Even in the grievous violence and fear and Ebola, the people and the stories coming from DR Congo are much more complicated, or as the Congolese will say in French, compliqué.
Often, at the heart of this compliqué and tenacity, are the music and songs in all their places, and in all their forms. This is where my Fulbright research about Congolese music traditions will hopefully take place.
One sister with her boyfriend at a club in Goma, tells NPR journalist Eyder Peralta, “Rumba is good, even through war, through Ebola. Rumba is still there, and Congolese keep living.” Read or listen to the story here at NPR.org.