Album Review: Fongola by Kokoko!


Album: Fongola
Artist: Kokoko!
Release Date: July 5, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Likolo
  • Azo Toke
  • Singa

Thoughts:

Kokoko! is a collective of artists from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They use instruments fashioned from trash to create sounds for a musical style that blends electronica with dance punk.  The synths layered on by their French producer Débruit also gives it an 80s freestyle dance pop sound.  Kokoko! makes refreshing music that functions equally well at a dance club or a political protest.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Virunga (2014) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “V” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous “V” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Vernon, Florida.

Title: Virunga
Release Date: April 17, 2014
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Production Company: Violet Films | Grain Media
Summary/Review:

Virunga documents the efforts of park rangers at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conserve the habitat of several endangered species, including the few surviving mountain gorillas.  From the start, the filmmakers embed the story in Africa’s history of colonialism, corporate exploitation, and war, particularly the recurring conflicts that have erupted since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  The park rangers are heavily armed, and we learn early on that 130 of them have died in the course of their duty.  Parallel scenes depict a funeral for a park ranger and the funeral of several mountain gorillas slaughtered by poachers.

The movie depicts ranger Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo at work and the director of the Virunga National Park, Emmanuel de Merode, overseeing how best to deploy limited resources.  We also spend time with the very warm and loving André Bauma and the orphan gorillas he cares for.  Current events change the focus of the film as there are even more grave threats to the park. First, the British corporation Soco International gains concessions for oil extraction within the park. Katembo and French investigative journalist Mélanie Gouby both meet with and secretly recorded Soco officials in order to uncover corruption and protect the park.  Next, an uprising by a rebel group called the M23, brings armed conflict right to the borders of the park.

Virunga is an absolutely visually-stunning film that ties together a nature documentary with current events and a dramatic throughline worthy of a scripted drama.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Nature documentaries set in Africa are often from the perspective of a white outsider, a David Attenborough or aJane Goodall.  Virunga stands out as a story that primarily offers the point of view of Congolese people and their concern for their national park and its animals.  That civil conflict and corporate malfeasance are so directly tied into the survival of the park also is unique in demonstrating that protecting endangered species is not separate from the greater human experience.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

The Virunga movie website offers several options to take action and help preserve the national park and its animals.

Source: Netflix

Rating: ****1/2

 


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family
R: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
S: Soundtrack for a Revolution
T: Titicut Follies
U: Unforgivable Blackness

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

Song of the Week: “Malukayi” by Mbonwana Star (feat. Konono No.1)


Every year the editor of the excellent MP3 blog Said the Gramophone publishes a list of 100 Best Songs of the Year.  The list is diverse, and not every song is going to resonate with everyone, but I always discover something new I missed over the course of the year.

One of the songs from this year’s list is “Malukayi” by Mbonwana Star (feat. Konono No.1).  The seven-piece band is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and they combine percussion with chant-like vocals and electronic sounds.  It’s pretty brilliant.

My own list of favorite songs of the year is coming soon.  If there’s a song you think should be on the best of 2015 list let me know in the comments!