Posted by: Eirin | November 4, 2009

Staff Benda Bilili

Disabled by polio, a group of homeless Congolese buskers called Staff Benda Bilili are attracting Western film-makers, musicians and internet fans with their sweet and funky music.

The band who are weaving spells about our ears with their dulcet rolling rumba and keening vocals are the unrecognised geniuses of Article 15 of the Congolese constitution, which exhorts all true patriots to find a way to cope and survive by fair means or foul. In other words, they are the masters of survival.

They call themselves Staff Benda Bilili, which, in Lingala, the lingua franca of this vast and variegated country, means something like “the people who see beyond…” Beyond prejudice, corruption, the lies of priests and politicians, the grimy veneer of daily life.

Coco Ngambali, the group’s primary songwriter, explains; “We see ourselves as journalists. We’re the real journalists because we’re not afraid of anyone. We communicate messages to mothers, to those who sleep on the streets on cardboard boxes, to the shégués.”

To read more, the full article from the Independent can be found here.  

Currently, the band is in Norway to perform at the Oslo World Music Festival.



  1. Eirin – thanks for posting this… it’s great.

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