Gwenn Dubourthoumieu Street musicians
We have already presented to you the series by Gwenn Dubourthoumieu, “Les Palais de Mobutu”, in the March 10th edition of La Lettre. Here today is the series on Jecoke. Created in 1958 in the very popular neighborhood of Elisabethville in Kenya (Lubumbashi after the independence) the “Jeunes Comiques de la Kenya à Elisabethville” – which stands for ‘Jecoke’ (translated as Young Comedians of Kenya in Elisabethville)- began their acting career by playing out sketches for the miners after work. Inspired by the chant of workers and music from Southern Africa, the group of actors transformed rapidly into a musical ensemble. Though they have kept the humor and lightness that earned them instant popularity. In the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, where the weight of history hangs heavily with indecency on the population, lightening the hearts is a virtue that is worth gold. Even today it is this liberating magic that operates. Wearing black Stetson hats on their heads and blue frock coats that sway in the breeze, the dashing choir of fifty-somethings makes the Swahili swing by the chords of their folk guitar, distilling a rather communicative rhythm. Their deep scruffy voices, tainted with an irresistible nostalgia, come together with a jumping choreography with the gift to bewitch. As the older men sing and play, nonchalant young men – half dancers, half acrobats – indulge themselves in countless versions of a particular shaking of their legs, very Elvis-like, that they call Kalinchelilincheli.
These two series will be displayed from March 25th through April 25th in the Comptoir Général, 80 quai de Jemmapes, Paris 10.