Hip-Hop's Spirit Translates in the Congo

A photographer captured images of a vibrant musical community telling its own stories through the genre.

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Courtesy of BET

The adversity that originally inspired hip-hop in the United States pales in comparison with that felt by the citizens of Democratic Republic of the Congo, but, BET News reports, young people there -- many of whom have lived through civil war -- are finding the medium just as appropriate to tell their own stories of struggle.

Photographer Agata Pietron captured images of a vibrant community of artists doing just that. While they're far from the American and European stars they imitate, the music seems to bridge the distance:

"They listened to it [hip hop] on the local radio, and when the Institute's Internet connection was working, they watched videos on YouTube of American and French rap groups. They said they felt a connection to the music because it is Black music sung by Blacks from the ghetto, from nowhere. The expression of anger on issues of social justice and rights resonates with them. Their clothing, ghetto celebrity style, started to make more sense," Pietron wrote.

North Kivu has been the site of continued unrest and violence as government troops battle with Rwandan Tutsis and rebel groups seeking access to the region's lucrative mines, causing the displacement of nearly 2 million people. Although the conflict reached a crisis point in 2008, the region still is not yet in the clear. Just earlier this week, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that fresh fighting in North Kivu has once again forced a number of people from their homes in fear.

The minerals being mined from Congolese soil are the building blocks of the rest of the world's technological boom. And so, ironically, the very life the North Kivu rappers dream of is the same one that is causing the struggle they seek to overcome.

Read more about Pietron's photos and North Kivu’s hop hop community here.

Read more at BET News.

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