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Friday January 28, 2022

Rappers on trial in DR Congo stand by contested songs

Eastern DR is struggling with scores of armed groups, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared a quarter of a century ago.

By AFP
November 27, 2021
Rappers on trial in DR Congo stand by contested songs
Rappers on trial in DR Congo stand by contested songs

Goma, DR Congo: Two rappers charged with insulting DR Congo´s military and president in their work stood on Friday by their songs, which condemn the government´s failure to stem bloodshed in the country´s conflict-wracked east.

Idengo, 32, whose real name is Katembo Delphin, was arrested last month accused of insulting the military and inciting people to arm themselves against the authority of the state.

Muyisa Nzanzu Makasi, 33, was detained five months ago for contempt of the head of state.

They went before a military tribunal on Friday in the main prison of Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

"I stand by everything that is said in my songs," Idengo told the court.

"At home in Beni, people have been killed every day since 2014 -- nothing has changed," said Idengo.

He has gained a prominent local reputation for his songs "Effacer le tableau" ("Wipe the board clean") and "C´est pas normal" ("It´s not right").

"This the reason for my song´s title: it´s not right. The FARDC (DR Congo´s armed forces) are doing nothing to protect the population," he said.

"In Swahili we say ´Muti isiyo towa matunda il faut kuikata´, which means ´the tree that does not bear fruit must be cut down´," he said, shocking the room.

Military prosecutor Major Aime Umba quickly intervened: "The defendant has confessed, we can move on."

The defence argued that Idengo was disturbed and needed psychiatric care.

"Our client has known years of war, his parents and relatives have been killed, it is normal that he sings like this," his lawyers said.

Muyisa recalled that during President Felix Tshisekedi´s election campaign, he had "promised to put an end to the massacres."

"But nothing has changed," the rapper said.

"That is why I say that the people in the government are thugs, imbeciles, that they only want glory. But I did not insult the president -- I reminded him of his job."

Eastern DR is struggling with scores of armed groups, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared a quarter of a century ago.