Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire

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9780822340911: Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire
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Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 until 1997, was fond of saying “happy are those who sing and dance,” and his regime energetically promoted the notion of culture as a national resource. During this period Zairian popular dance music (often referred to as la rumba zaïroise) became a sort of musica franca in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. But how did this privileged form of cultural expression, one primarily known for a sound of sweetness and joy, flourish under one of the continent’s most brutal authoritarian regimes? In Rumba Rules, the first ethnography of popular music in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bob W. White examines not only the economic and political conditions that brought this powerful music industry to its knees, but also the ways that popular musicians sought to remain socially relevant in a time of increasing insecurity.

Drawing partly on his experiences as a member of a local dance band in the country’s capital city Kinshasa, White offers extraordinarily vivid accounts of the live music scene, including the relatively recent phenomenon of libanga, which involves shouting the names of wealthy or powerful people during performances in exchange for financial support or protection. With dynamic descriptions of how bands practiced, performed, and splintered, White highlights how the ways that power was sought and understood in Kinshasa’s popular music scene mirrored the charismatic authoritarianism of Mobutu’s rule. In Rumba Rules, Congolese speak candidly about political leadership, social mobility, and what it meant to be a bon chef (good leader) in Mobutu’s Zaire.

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From the Publisher:

"What began with an extraordinary feat of immersion into Kinshasa's music scene toward the end of Mobutu's regime has been honed and crafted into a study of Congolese popular culture and politics that is bound to become a classic. A feat of ethnography and a much needed ray of hope in these messy and tragic times."--Johannes Fabian, author of Memory against Culture: Arguments and Reminders

"Rumba Rules is a really exciting book, definitely worthy of the `groundbreaking' and `sorely needed' labels it is bound to attract. It is full of the basics and the nuances; deeply informative about a place, a scene, a local history, and lived realities; and deeply accountable to debates and discussions about how popular culture encodes a feeling of and for modernity."-- Steven Feld, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music, University of New Mexico

From the Back Cover:

""Rumba Rules" ties dance music to dictatorship, band leaders to politicians, in ways that are sensitive to the struggles of Congolese musicians and their fans in Kinshasa. Bob W. White neither diminishes the artistry and entertainment value of musical performances nor over-determines their role in political culture. This is a book that finely theorizes the relationship between aesthetics and political culture through vivid and often amusing storytelling."--Louise Meintjes, author of "Sound of Africa! Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio"

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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 2008. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 until 1997, was fond of saying "happy are those who sing and dance," and his regime energetically promoted the notion of culture as a national resource. During this period Zairian popular dance music (often referred to as la rumba zairoise) became a sort of musica franca in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. But how did this privileged form of cultural expression, one primarily known for a sound of sweetness and joy, flourish under one of the continent's most brutal authoritarian regimes? In Rumba Rules, the first ethnography of popular music in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bob W. White examines not only the economic and political conditions that brought this powerful music industry to its knees, but also the ways that popular musicians sought to remain socially relevant in a time of increasing insecurity.Drawing partly on his experiences as a member of a local dance band in the country's capital city Kinshasa, White offers extraordinarily vivid accounts of the live music scene, including the relatively recent phenomenon of libanga, which involves shouting the names of wealthy or powerful people during performances in exchange for financial support or protection. With dynamic descriptions of how bands practiced, performed, and splintered, White highlights how the ways that power was sought and understood in Kinshasa's popular music scene mirrored the charismatic authoritarianism of Mobutu's rule. In Rumba Rules, Congolese speak candidly about political leadership, social mobility, and what it meant to be a bon chef (good leader) in Mobutu's Zaire. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780822340911

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