‘Tired of pre-conceptions around African music, Mbongwana Star are creating their own identity, fusing traditional Congolese rhythms with post punk and electronics inspired by life in the townships around them, “making magic out garbage”’—some tracks on YouTube: Malukayi (ft. Konono No. 1); Shégué; Nganshe; Kala. You can listen to their debut album From Kinshasa in full on Soundcloud (some reviews 1, 2, 3). [more inside]
“Diamonds are easier to trace than wine,” says Jason Hernandez, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted one of the largest wine counterfeiting cases in 2013. “Even if you’re looking at something like a 1982 Château Lafite,” he says, referring to what oenophiles consider one of the best wines in the world from one of the best years, “they made 20,000 cases of that wine. How do you tell one bottle from the next?”
In the summer of 1965, riots broke out in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles. Over a six-day period, 34 people were killed, 1,032 injured and over 3,438 arrests were made. In 1966, LIFE magazine revisited the site of the worst riots America had ever seen in its history. The photo essay depicting the region’s ‘fearsome street gangs’ however, turned out more like a fashion shoot for dapper style… [more inside]
History is made: the ICC has made their first ruling; Lubanga is guilty, and the use of child soldiers is now clearly against international law. [NYT] [BBC] [Guardian] [actual judgement] [judgement summary] [more inside]
Richard Mosse's photography from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [Previously] [more inside]
Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world's largest active volcanoes. The Boston Globe presents photographer Oliver Grunewald's amazing photo essay of a June 2010 expedition to the lava lake sheltered inside the crater. [more inside]
Georgina Cranston travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to photograph the women who work deep inside some of the country's disused gold mines. [more inside]
The Congolese Sape is a photoessay by Héctor Mediaville on Sapeurs, a male subculture in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is defined by its haute couture clothes. Blogger Eccentric Yoruba wrote a post for steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana on Sapeurs which was crossposted to Racialicious detailing the history of the movement and linking it to dandyism in general and explaining its political significance in the 70s, when it was championed by music legend Papa Wemba (live footage from the 90s and 70s).
Rape used as a tool of war: 200 women gang-raped near Congo base U.N. says. UN Chief outraged, FWIW. All links to news articles, but not for the weak of stomach.
Covered in lava, Goma in the DRC, was destroyed by the Nyiragongo Volcano a few years back. Since then, the aid hub has seen a lot of turmoil. As Rebel General Laurent Nkunda of the CNDP nears Goma, 250,000 have fled the area and disease is rife.
In the field of humanitarian aid, personnel decisions are life and death business. The UN knows all too well the costs of poor oversight, but aid worker and blogger Michael Kleinman makes another observation, far more disturbing. In the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid business, some lives are worth less than others, and not only among the populations served. [more inside]
Top Ten Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006 from Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders
The vote count with a death toll in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the other election to watch right now. Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba, both of whom command large private armies say they will accept the results of the poll, though the truth of that remains to be seen. Bemba is implicated in war crimes (previously discussed here); and Kabila's inner circle controls much of the wealth of the DRC. Either way, a successful election would be better than a return to the war that killed 4 million people. And contrary to the paltry coverage the Congo receives in the news, what happens there matters to the rest of the world. But will the election results change the lives of Congolese civilians?