DRC’s Libende Boyz Are Using Their Voices to Uplift Troubled Beni
Photo: Alex Proper
Following multiple crises in the Beni region, Libende Boyz have sought short-term ways to use their talents to bring humanitarian aid to vulnerable people who’ve directly been affected.
Libende Boyz explain that, in the face of despair, any form of help is valuable. That’s what made them want to sing songs about peace and use their music to be part of the rallying cry for it in the region. “As artists, we have no more powerful weapon than our artistic expression to call on the world to come to the aid of the battered people of our homeland,” says Tshims. For him, their songs about these themes are the cries of victims’ distress calling for an end to a tragedy that cannot be justified by any claim, based on the international principle that human life is sacred.
Libende Boyz hope that their songs will help to challenge decision-makers at all levels to respond effectively to this violence, and they strongly hope this will lead to the general mobilization of a local and global coalition to put an end to these killings. “It is this imminent expectation of peace to be celebrated that justifies the composition of festive songs celebrating the resilience of the population of Beni, Ituri and other regions plagued by insecurity in the framework of the artistic project, Motive,” says Negro Man.
The music that fills Motive, their most recent album release, is based on a belief in the resilience and strength of Beni’s citizens to rise up from bad situations. But the group is going further than just singing about resilience and strength.
The first part of the project, entirely sung by SLM/Libende Boyz, was released on in May last year, and the second part, which includes collaborations with Congolese stars like Koffi Olomide, Mohombi Moupondo, and Pson, and notable artists from other African countries, like 1da Banton, LAX, Eugy Official, Spice Diana, and Anita Jaxson will be released in in the middle of this year. It’s produced by BALMA CORP, a Goma-based organization that will donate 40% of the project’s proceeds to a scholarship fund for children orphaned by soldiers who died fighting violent extremism in the Beni region.
The group members, who maintains that the return of a lasting peace also requires the participation of the community, go beyond music to assist those in need. Following multiple crises in the Beni region, they have sought short-term ways to use their talents to bring humanitarian aid to those vulnerable people who’ve been directly affected.
As Vj Sparrow, says: “These are mainly orphaned children whose parents have been killed by the rebels. But there is also a layer forgotten by the various humanitarian interventions in the region. For reasons of national security, the statistics of soldiers who have died on the front lines are kept top secret. Yet, in the military camps, many children cannot go to school because of lack of resources. And studies conducted by our partners show that most of these children are orphans and that their parents were killed during the fighting. With our production company, it was agreed to allocate 40% of the income generated by the production of our works to the MAHAMBA scholarship, which will provide schooling for a hundred of its orphaned children as of the beginning of the school year in 2022.”
In addition, another project which Libende Boyz is working on is the creation of a cultural center to share the practices of living together within the community of Beni but also to supervise the youth, who have become easy prey to being recruited by the militias. For Libende Boyz, music together with action is key to their life’s work.