The Country is Currently is Facing the Second Largest Outbreak in History

The Country is Currently is Facing the Second Largest Outbreak in History

Thomas met his bandmates while working on a music project in Kinshasa. They jammed together at a block party in 2016 and formed the group shortly after.

The music itself, which combines homemade instruments with electronic synths, channels the sounds and spirit of KOKOKO!’s birthplace. Kinshasa, home to an estimated 12 million people, has a rich aural landscape, according to Bomolo, Thomas and percussionist/vocalist Makara Bianko. Street vendors clink nail polish bottles together. Shoeshiners call out to customers. Megaphones blast recorded advertisements for cellphone credits on a perpetual loop.

“With your eyes closed, you can tell who’s where — at what distance,” Thomas explains. “Boms is inspired by the sonic chaos and reorganizes it into music.”

KOKOKO!’s high-powered performance, yellow jumpsuits and all, is a demand to be seen and heard in the middle of Congo’s vibrancy — but they also make a point on their website and during the interview to highlight the challenges faced by Congolese people.

The world sees Congo as an Ebola hotspot — the country is currently is facing the second largest outbreak in history. But the musicians say the virus does not play into daily life in Kinshasa, which is more than a thousand miles away from the affected area. The members of KOKOKO! have other concerns, like violence, corruption and poverty. The World Bank estimates that 73% of Congo’s population lived in extreme poverty in 2018.

Congo is rich in natural resources, making it a top producer of metals like cobalt and coltan. But Bianko believes that the wealth from those resources mainly profits industrialized nations and the multinational corporations that mine in Congo.


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