Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire

Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire

by Bob W. White
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0822340917

ISBN-13: 9780822340911

Pub. Date: 06/27/2008

Publisher: Duke University Press Books


Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 until 1997, was fond of saying “happy are those who sing and dance,” and his regime energetically promoted the notion of culture as a national resource. During this period Zairian popular dance music (often referred to as la rumba zaïroise) became a sort of

Overview


Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 until 1997, was fond of saying “happy are those who sing and dance,” and his regime energetically promoted the notion of culture as a national resource. During this period Zairian popular dance music (often referred to as la rumba zaïroise) became a sort of musica franca in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. But how did this privileged form of cultural expression, one primarily known for a sound of sweetness and joy, flourish under one of the continent’s most brutal authoritarian regimes? In Rumba Rules, the first ethnography of popular music in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bob W. White examines not only the economic and political conditions that brought this powerful music industry to its knees, but also the ways that popular musicians sought to remain socially relevant in a time of increasing insecurity.

Drawing partly on his experiences as a member of a local dance band in the country’s capital city Kinshasa, White offers extraordinarily vivid accounts of the live music scene, including the relatively recent phenomenon of libanga, which involves shouting the names of wealthy or powerful people during performances in exchange for financial support or protection. With dynamic descriptions of how bands practiced, performed, and splintered, White highlights how the ways that power was sought and understood in Kinshasa’s popular music scene mirrored the charismatic authoritarianism of Mobutu’s rule. In Rumba Rules, Congolese speak candidly about political leadership, social mobility, and what it meant to be a bon chef (good leader) in Mobutu’s Zaire.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822340911
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
06/27/2008
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Note to the Reader xxi

1. Popular Culture's Politics 1

2. The Zairian Sound 27

3. Made in Zaire 65

4. Live Time 97

5. Musicians and Mobility 131

6. Live Texts 165

7. The Political Life of Dance Bands 195

8. In the Skin of a Chief 225

Notes 253

Bibliography 271

Discography 287

Index 289

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