staff benda bilili

November 3, 2009


Last night’s hoped-for sneak preview of Staff Benda Bilili turned out to be more indirect than expected, due to the members of this band from Congo needing a bit more time to adjust to a wet and November-y Oslo. But French filmmakers Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye who are busy getting their documentary about the most famous handicapped band in Africa did a great job in whipping up enthusiasm, not only for Benda Bilili’s show tomorrow at Rockefeller, but also their singularly no-nonsense approach to everything that life deals out to them.

After being thrown out of various other bands in Kinshasa (for always being late, since moving around town in their home-made wheelchair-trishaws isn’t trivial), the various members decided to start their own band, playing on the street, and rehearsing in the zoo (which is why you can hear toads on their track ‘Polio‘). In between all that, they also find time to protect street kids from the cops and take care of their own families – and now be the hottest new rumba funk band on the planet.

Don’t believe me? Just go to their show, I’m planning to tomorrow and can’t wait. They’re also playing in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Bristol and Oxford this month – that should cover all six remaining Myyear readers. Sorry though toc – their show in Copenhagen was on Sunday, but you guys gave them the Womex 09 prize, so you rock anyway!


Lisa F Jackson
On a mission… Lisa F Jackson. Photograph: Bryan Bedder/Getty

Not at all an easy read but a worthwhile one. Taken from the Guardian, Friday May 9, 2008.

Filmmaker Lisa F Jackson survived a terrifying sexual assault in Washington. But she was still shocked by the tales women told her when she made a documentary about rape in the Congo. She talks to Kira Cochrane.

In a long conversation, the only time that Lisa F Jackson falls quiet is when I ask which moment most affected her in the making of her film The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo. Was it meeting a teenager, Immakilee, raped by soldiers and left pregnant at 15, who, as Jackson says, “has eyes that look like the world has abandoned her”? Or hearing the story of 42-year-old Marie Jeanne, whose husband was beaten and killed and, as she explains in the film, cut “into three parts, the head, the chest, and the bottom part … then they raped me and abandoned me there. I passed out next to my husband’s legs”?

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