Goma – Two rappers charged with insulting the Democratic Republic of Congo’s army and president in their work stood on Friday by their songs, which condemn the government’s failure to stem bloodshed in the country’s conflict-wracked east.
Idengo, 32, whose real name is Katembo Delphin, was arrested last month accused of insulting the army and inciting people to arm themselves against the authority of the state.
Muyisa Nzanzu Makasi, 33, was detained five months ago for contempt of the head of state.
They went before a military tribunal on Friday in the main prison of Goma, capital of North Kivu province.
“I stand by everything that is said in my songs,” Idengo told the court.
“At home in Beni, people have been killed every day since 2014 – nothing has changed,” said Idengo.
He has gained a prominent local reputation for his songs “Effacer le tableau” (“Wipe the board clean”) and “C’est pas normal” (“It’s not right”).
“This the reason for my song’s title: it’s not right. The FARDC (DR Congo’s armed forces) are doing nothing to protect the population,” he said.
“In Swahili we say ‘Muti isiyo towa matunda il faut kuikata’, which means ‘the tree that does not bear fruit must be cut down’,” he said, shocking the room.
Military prosecutor Major Aime Umba quickly intervened: “The defendant has confessed, we can move on.”
The defence argued that Idengo was disturbed and needed psychiatric care.
“Our client has known years of war, his parents and relatives have been killed, it is normal that he sings like this,” his lawyers said.
Muyisa recalled that during President Felix Tshisekedi’s election campaign, he had “promised to put an end to the massacres”.
“But nothing has changed,” the rapper said.
“That is why I say that the people in the government are thugs, imbeciles, that they only want glory. But I did not insult the president – I reminded him of his job.”
Eastern DRC is struggling with scores of armed groups, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared a quarter of a century ago.
North Kivu in particular has suffered massacres at the hands of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – historically a Ugandan Muslim group that the United States this year formally linked to the so-called Islamic State.
The country’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.
The hearing was adjourned until December 3.
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