Fulu Miziki is doing their part to help clean up Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, in the most unusual way. Noticing the growing problem of the city’s waste management, the Congolese band decided to recycle trash by turning it into instruments they could use to make beautiful music.
Founded in 2003 by Piscko Crane Ewango Mabende, Fulu Miziki actually means “music from the garbage” in their native language, Lingala, and that is exactly what they are known and loved for by their thousands of fans worldwide.
Crane scours the city’s dumps in search of ideal materials. Where most would see nothing but trash, he sees treasure. In discarded and unwanted items, he sees great potential for repurposing and a second life.
“I see this is helping clean and I can see that it will provide a good sound,” said Crane to Libanga Store, searching a local dump for materials to use. “It’ll give me a good Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. So this will make a good instrument for our music.”
The group’s music is much more than entertainment, however. It is activism. Through their songs and performances, Fulu Miziki protests the city’s waste issue, urging people through their lyrics to do their part in helping to make a change.
Lacking proper facilities for recycling, the capital city has become littered with garbage. On the streets, you can find trash strewn about, and the sewer system often becomes blocked with waste. With their music, the band members hope to raise public awareness about the need for recycling.
“I came here because I am looking for what I can use to make musical instruments, but I also want to bring attention to the problem of waste management in this city. Kinshasa has become very dirty, that is why I am taking some of the waste to create musical instruments.”
In addition to making musical instruments out of garbage, the members of Fulu Miziki use discarded trash to fashion their performance costumes, as well.
“It’s interesting to take something I can recycle and turn it into musical instruments, as well as create our costumes. Some may throw away things and I look for ways to re-use what has been thrown away, because waste is not good for our health. My wish is to see this music genre recognized worldwide and also raise awareness on the importance of waste management, especially in Africa.”