The Giant Banjos of Lubumbashi

The Karindula Sessions – Tradi modern Sounds from Southeast Congo
Various Artists

The Karindula Sessions – Tradi modern Sounds from Southeast Congo (Crammed Discs CRAW 70, 2011)

The Karindula Sessions introduces a new African style called karindula. The album contains an audio CD and a fascinating +90 minute DVD video that features the sessions recorded and videotaped in the Congolese copper mining city of Lubumbashi, which is the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Belgian producer Vincent Kenis – who also produced the Congotronics series in Kinshasa- traveled to southeastern Congo, near the Zambian border, to document this new genre that fuses traditional music with modern elements. Karindula is named after the leading instrument used in the genre: a giant banjo assembled out of an oil barrel, a goat skin, four strings, and an empty bag of powdered milk attached between the strings and the neck to produce a buzzing sound.

The Karindula Sessions includes four musical groups: BBK, Bana Simba, Bena Ngoma and Bana Lupemba. The musicians live in a well-known suburb of Lubumbashi known as “Kenya”. The sessions were organized at the last minute and the festival-style performances took place in the street, with no amplification. The four bands played for an enthusiastic audience that included numerous children.

It is unclear where the Karindula genre started. It appeared in the 1970s, in the copper mining region known as the Copperbelt. Some think Karindula was developed in Lubumbashi, Congo. Others think that it came from neighboring Zambia, where they have a similar style called Kalindula.

As the front cover of The Karindula Sessions shows, a skilled musician sits on the giant banjo. He may also sing and is accompanied by a much smaller stringed instrument that looks a small-scale version of the karindula. Other musicians play percussion and

The Karindula genre is deeply influenced by Bemba (Zambian) and Luba (southern Congolese) traditional music, with a few elements of reggae added to the mix. Karindula groups often play at mourning ceremonies, and sometimes include very provocative and rebellious lyrics.

The Karindula Sessions
is an insightful audiovisual presentation of how creative musicians in southern Congo are able to perform a contemporary form of popular music with new musical instruments made out of recycled materials.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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