A musical escape for the street children of Kinshasha

Oze Makvala, 19, a homeless teenager who has slept rough on the streets for years, sings at the studio of Mokili Na Poche cultural centre, a Congolese arts refuge that helps street children, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo September 5, 2023. REUTERS/Justin Makangara

A small recording booth on the outskirts of the Congolese capital Kinshasa has become a safe space for homeless teenagers to rap and sing about their life on the streets and dreams of a brighter future. (Reuters)

Lyrics about sexual abuse, theft, and run-ins with the police lay bare the hardships faced by the few dozen children and young people who attend the Mokili Na Poche cultural centre – a day refuge offering a place to wash, eat, and learn to those in need.

“It really makes me happy when I sing,” said 19-year-old Osé Mavakala, who has slept on the streets for years like more than 20,000 other homeless children in Kinshasa, according to U.N. agency UNICEF.

Other teens looked on with pride as Mavakala rapped intently into the microphone at a session in late August. The chance to record in a studio has inspired Mavakala to dream of bigger goals. “It encourages me and I tell myself – ah, life belongs to the courageous,” he said, citing U.S. rapper Lil Wayne and Congolese star Fally Ipupa as influences.

Author: Guest author

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.