I'm updating this article fairly regularly and I'm not bothered to pointing out exactly what I edited. Please take it on good faith that when my opinions will change and I may feel ashamed of them I will write it explicitly, whereas more cosmetic changes or additions I won't.
Initial post, 20/02/2023
Soooooo Or Congo is finally out! This EP was pretty much done back in April 2022 except for Or Congo itself which proved quite difficult to mix and master. In the end James Marvel (pleasantly) surprised me by telling me it was getting released back in December. Perfect being the enemy of the good and all that.
I'm writing this to apologise for the title track. First some backstory. About 2 years ago a new Belgian label popped up, Midas Touch Recordings (which coincidentally also has a release out today). My mind then made the following jumps:
- Midas Touch
- Mining in the DRC
- Planned obsolescence
Hence Or Congo, which is a poor pun on "or" (gold) and "hors" (outside).
I wanted to apologise for being yet another white dude focusing on the colonial history and neo-colonial present of the Congo. I know very little about the Congo save for David Van Reynbrouck's book (which I read after writing the EP) and a book called Stringer written by some dude from the US. My understanding of this region is almost entirely shaped by these two authors as well as the occasional news stories about the horrific conditions in which people (are forced to) mine gold, coltan, cobalt, ...
Why apologise for focusing on this? For at least two reasons:
- People should be in charge of their own narratives and not have them thrust upon them.
- Being black, African, Congolese etc should not be identities entirely defined by opposition to whiteness, colonialism etc if the people with those identities wish to truly be free. They should be sources of joy and not simply of resistance. (EDIT: this is me roughly paraphrasing my main takeaway from "Sensuous Knowledge")
I say should - do whatever the bloody hell you want, but just realise and accept the implications of what you do and think. Anyway, stop listening to me and check out the following people, books, podcasts, etc (I will update this as I go along):
- Minna Salami's "Sensuous Knowledge" particularly the chapter "on blackness".
- Dina Gilio-Whitaker's As Long As The Grass Grows
- Johnny Pitt's "Afropean".
- Malcolm Ferdinand's Decolonial Ecology - Thinking from the Caribbean World (Critical South)
- Fuck White Tears
Addendum from 24/02/2023 (roughly)
I'm not sure if apology is the right word here. I don't particularly want to be one of those flagellants who apologises so as to go on with their shitty ways. I guess this could be forgivingly described as some self-reflection so as to do better (whatever that means) in the future.