A unique music collaboration between young people from the South Acton estate and the war-torn Kivu district of the Eastern Congo has resulted in a release of an 11-track music album called “Acton2Kivu: Dance for Freedom”.
The Acton-based young people all became involved through their attendance at Ealing Council’s Bollo Brook Youth and Community Centre on the South Acton Estate. Youth workers at the centre made contact with a charity in Kivu called Congo in the Picturewhich works with young people living with the daily threat of war and violence.
The finishedCD is a melting pot of different musical genres including hip-hop, rap, traditional west African music, afro beat and R ‘n’ B and features lyrics in English and Congolese and it speaks out about the contributor’s experiences and hopes for the future. The CD is now on sale at https://acton2kivu.bandcamp.com/releases and all funds raised will go towards supporting Congo in the Picture
The performers didn’t ever meet each other. Instead they co-operated on the tracks by sending them back and forth digitally until both sides were happy with the finished result. This could be a slow process as production of the album in the Congo could stop at any time as a result of the on-going conflict. The precariousness of the lives of people living in Kivu was brought home with the news that, while the album was in the final stages of production, one of the Congolese performers was tragically killed during a raid on his village.
Colin Brent manages the Bollo Brook Youth Centre. He said: “We’ve always known how talented our young people are and we’ve done what we can to encourage their creativity. Bollo Brook has its own recording studio and locals often pop in to the centre to use the facilities to make their own music.
“Many of our young people have family connections to Africa and one of our performers has Congolese parents, but few of us knew the sheer scale of what was going on in Kivu until we started working on creating the album. The conflict in Eastern Congo is often called the ‘forgotten war’, but our project might help to raise some awareness and some money.”
Joyce John- Longhor, one of the Acton based performers said:
‘Working on the DRC project has been a phenomenal experience. It has enabled me to learn more about the lives of young people in another part of the world, whilst also helping me to improve my lyric writing and music skills.
Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The human stories behind the music are remarkable and its heart breaking to think that some of the young people involved in making this music are living in danger of losing their lives every day.
“Many of our Acton performers are now building careers in the performing arts as musicians and dancers and their talent really shone through when I listened to the album. I am really proud of the council’s involvement in this project and I hope we can raise a lot of money to help support Congo in the Picture
To download the album, go to https://acton2kivu.bandcamp.com/releases It costs £5 and all money raised with go to Congo in the Picture.
To find out more about the Bollo Brook Youth Centre, go to www.youngealing.co.uk/bollobrook