Even in today’s hip hop world of fast cars, jewels and excess, at its core, there still exists the underlying theme of cultivating the ability to triumph over whatever adverse situation life presents. For the young hip hop scene in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although many have lived through civil war and may be millions of miles away from the American and European stars they idolize, the message hip hop conveys seems to travel the distance without compromise.
However, you won't find this music scene racking up "likes" on YouTube, writes blog Africa is a Country.
Photographer Agata Pietron traveled to North Kivu in 2009 with the intention of researching women’s issues, but instead, she was drawn to a vibrant community of young hip hop artists who were using the art form to express the unique realities of their own struggle.
“They listened to it [hip hop] on the local radio, and when the Institute’s Internet connection was working, they watched videos on YouTube of American and French rap groups. They said they felt a connection to the music because it is Black music sung by Blacks from the ghetto, from nowhere. The expression of anger on issues of social justice and rights resonates with them. Their clothing, ghetto celebrity style, started to make more sense,” Pietron wrote.
North Kivu has been the site of continued unrest and violence as government troops battle with Rwandan Tutsis and rebel groups seeking access to the region's lucrative mines, causing the displacement of nearly 2 million people. Although the conflict reached a crisis point in 2008, the region still is not yet in the clear. Just earlier this week, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that fresh fighting in North Kivu has once again forced a number of people from their homes in fear.
The minerals being mined from Congolese soil are the building blocks of the rest of the world's technological boom. And so, ironically, the very life the North Kivu rappers dream of is the same one that is causing the struggle they seek to overcome.
Read more about Pietron’s photos and North Kivu’s hop hop community here.
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(Photo: Agata Pietron/newsmotion.org)