Kinshasa Orchestra

My mom told me about this segment she watched on 60 Minutes shortly after we moved to Congo, but our poor internet connection over there never let me check it out. Last week at a sushi bar here in Arizona, a new acquaintance mentioned she saw it too. So I finally looked it up.

I had no idea that the only symphony orchestra in Central Africa could be found right here in our host country. (One more reason to get up to Kinshasa soon, Seb!) Kinshasa is the capital of the DRC, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities on the continent, despite having zero infrastructure to support such a population. I remember reading about the rich musical history of Congo in Michela Wrong’s excellent book “In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz,” including the sad photo of what she called “one of the last grand pianos in the city” at the declining National Conservatory of Music — a piano missing its third leg, propped up on a chair.

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Jambo Bwana

I heard this song recently and it stuck in my head for days.  Last night I asked a social worker here if she knew the song.  Not only could she sing it perfectly, but she wrote down the words for me and gave me my first official Swahili lesson!

Jambo (hello)

Jambo Bwana (hello mister)

Habari Gani? (how are you?)

Musuri Sana! (very well!)

Wageni (visitors)

Mwa Kari Bishwa (you are welcome)

Congo Yetu (Congo is ours)

Hakuna Matata! (no worries!)

The song is originally from Kenya.  Here’s for a little listen.  Beware, it’s very catchy!