We colonized all of Africa with our music.

Things were bad in the Belgian Congo in the early part of the century. Colonialization and apartheid level conditions between the invading Europeans and the rightful inhabitants of the country were enslaved, beaten, forced to work for the white man mining the natural resources while they lived high on the hog in a fancy city. Music was the saving grace. Talking to musical historians and with people who played music, we get a rich oral and aural history of a group of young musicians who wanted to bring some light into the lives of the people in their community.

People would meet at the bars to listen to music and dance. Eventually they started making records and selling them all over the world, exposing Congolese to anyone with a gramophone who then could listen and move to the groove of the rumba.

Writer/director Alan Brain takes us on a musical journey into the origins of a musical style that came out of oppression and a need for something positive. We get a romantic tale of how people came together to create something beautiful that they could share with the world. With old photographs, scratchy video of live shows and live performances from surviving members of original bands, this film is a beautiful time capsule of a style of music that lives on in the hearts of those who grew up with it. Hopefully, with this movie, more people will discover this beautiful genre of music before it’s gone.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed online (screener provided by Melbourne Documentary Film Festival), July 25, 2021. Rating: G. Running time: 94 min.

PRODUCTION: A Shift Visual Lab production. Producers: Alan Brain & Monica Carlson.

CREW: Director/cinematography/editing: Alan Brain. Music: Brian Steckler.

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