Baloji: Congolese Rap And The Echoes Of Independence

Photo of Keren Weitzberg
10 January 2017

If there’s one song you need to know byrap/rumba artist Baloji, it is “Le Jour d’Après/Siku Ya Baadaye.” In this song, he borrows from the classic 1960 hit “Independence Cha Cha,” written to commemorate Congo’s independence.

In contrast to the celebratory original produced during the heady years of decolonization, Baloji’s version is edgy and critical of his nation’s progress:

“j’ai repris cette chanson fédératrice
symbole de la crédulité de nos prémices
entre indépendance et armistice
mais pour que nos démocraties progressent
faut qu’elle apprennent de leurs erreurs de jeunesse
mon pays est un continent émergent
bâti en moins de 50 ans”

Baloji’s work is indicative of a broader trend among African artists and intellectuals, who are critically reflecting upon the promises and hopes of independence as they rethink what citizenship means in the twenty-first century.

Baloji, Performing Live at Belgian Afro-Latino Festival 2013 | © Michel Engelen/Flickr

Here is the original ‘Independence Cha Cha,’ first recorded in 1960 by ‘Le Grand Kalle’ Joseph Kabasele and the group African Jazz.

This article was published in partnership with The Africa Collective, a broad collaboration between scholars, bloggers, and activists, who do research, write, and speak about Africa.

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