Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post showcases seven videos of traditional Congolese dancers and musicians who are wearing dots and/or other face and body paint.
This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series about traditional and contemporary African face and body painting.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.
Thanks to all those who are featured in this post and all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
DISCLAIMER: This post isn't meant to represent all of the different types of face painting or body painting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Nor does this post imply that people performing these dances or playing the music for these dances always wear face or body paint.
PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S COMMENT [Revised on January 7, 2018]
Since at least 2015, there have been a number of YouTube tutorials about "African Face Painting" (also given as "African Tribal Painting)". Many of these videos focus on painting temporary designs made out of dots, lines, swirls, and/or other geometric figures on one's face and/or body or on another person's face/body. One example of these YouTube tutorials is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0mxolHUa-g&t=78s "African face paint tutorial: DOTS" published by Loumingou Night on Mar 10, 2015.
The appropriateness of Black people and other people in the United States and other Western cultures wearing so-called "African tribal" face and body painting has been and continues to be hotly debated. The videographer in the example given above discusses this topic while painting her face. Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/01/young-paris-response-to-zipporah-genes.html for a 2016 pancocojams post on the subject of whether it's culturally appropriate for Black people in the African Diaspora (and other people) to paint dots and other so-called African tribal designs on their face and/or body.
Rather than add to that debate, I've chosen to focus on questions that continue to be asked in a number of discussion threads of YouTube videos of these "African Tribal Painting" tutorials. This post and some other posts in this pancocojams series addresses the question: "Which African ethnic groups* do these painted designs (or designs like this) come from?"
Most of the publishers of these tutorials respond to these questions by saying that their designs are "inspired" by various (usually unnamed) African "ethnic groups"*.
*Note that I've substituted the term "ethnic group" for "tribe" as I consider "tribe" to be a term that's loaded with all sorts of negative European colonial connotations.
In an upcoming pancocojams series I'll provide some information gleaned from the internet that may be extrapolated to help explain what some traditional African face/body painting and scarification designs might mean.
Here's one quote from Young Paris (a contemporary Black male musician who was born to Congolese parents in France, and raised in New York) about the meanings of colors in the Congo:
Young Paris: Afropunk 2015 *
"Good afternoon, this is Young Paris. We’re at the HausOAlt
Oh, AfroPunk is all. I was here last year as a guest. It’s funny, I did some social media stuff and a lot of it kinda went viral and people started following the aesthetic where I was going with this afro futuristic, afro-futuristic, traditional, contemporary concept, And it just started rapidly growing an audience. It’s just down to see the timing when it happened and that they’re able to put me on a platform where I can sharing the information. So that’s how I see it hear. Just the sharing.
Well my father co-founded the Congo ballet. And in their lineage they would use different colors to highlight their features. And so the national ballet had like a distinction within the Congo about how they would present themselves. He was a choreographer at thirteen and he continued this lineage. So I just carry on that tradition.
We wear different colors for different reasons. So with red, it symbolizes the blood of our people. Yellow is the sun that provides life. And green is the grass, It gives us food. And the white is –when we lose our ancestors, we wear white in remembrance of them because we carry on their lineage.
So my father died a couple of years ago, Since then I usually only wear the white.
For me I took the idea of this science and built it into a pop culture aesthetic around it."...
*This is my transcription from the video. Additions and corrections are welcome.
Use pancocojams's internal search engine or click the "traditional and contemporary African face and body painting" tag below to find other pancocojams post on this subject.
Example #1: BASOKIN,Basongye a Kinshasa
ngandu a mushinga, Published on Oct 22, 2007
Musique folklorique du Peuple SONGYE de la LOMAMI terribles danses ancestrales royales pleines d'élégance!!Ouhhhh la fierté du MUSONGYE,souche pharaonique pure.....Eyendo Basongye ni m'Bakielengye m'BAKALANGA.Wonderful dancers and Maskers makers.
Google translation from French to English:
Folk music SONGYE of the LOMAMI terrible royal dances full of elegance !! Ouhhhh the pride of MUSONGYE, pure pharaonic strain ..... Eyendo Basongye ni m'Bakielengye m'BAKALANGA.Wonderful dancers and Maskers makers.
Your humble servant
In the context of this comment, the word “terrible” probably means something like “awesome”
Here are three comments from this video's YouTube discussion thread:
"Story on this band in National Geographic Magazine for September 2013. Congratulations, and best of luck and blessings to keep the values and culture of the Congo alive as Kinshasa evolves. Hold on to your beauty and love for each other and the Earth."
"What's the correct pronunciation of "Songye" or "Basongye"?
Sarkin Makanda, 2017
"NYCBG both are correct. the ba refers to people so when you refer to the people of songye you say basongye."
Example #2: Hommage Ngeleka et les Artistes du Congo Kinshasa [sound file with photograph collage]
compukin, Published on Jun 19, 2008
Les artistes ne meurent pas, ils demeurent survivent à travers leurs oeuvres
Google translation from French to English:
Artists do not die, they stay alive through their works
Example #3: The Best of Congo Kasai Folk Music Allstars
compukin, Published on Mar 15, 2009
Kasaï is one of the richest provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo not only for diamond but also for its culture and Arts. Here we have a compilation of some traditional dance and music. A project to collect information on the Kasaï's master pieces in music, arts and culture is in progress at Heritage Panafrica Centre
Scenes that include dancers with face and/or body painting can be found at 3:29-7:15
Example #4: ballet MBONDA AFRICA
pelengamo tonka, Published on Jan 2, 2013
directeur général TONKA PELENGAMO de ballet mbonda africa dans ...rdc
"rdc" = [in English] the Democratic Republic Of The Congo
Example #5: Traditional Congolese dance - in theatre with Ballet Arumbaya Ndendeli
Ballet Arumbaya Ndendeli, Published on Mar 23, 2014
Ballet Arumbaya Ndendeli performs in theatre in Kinshasa
Example #6: BIBOC - traditional folk musical assembly of Democratic Republic of Congo
Dr SImon KALOMBO, Published on Jun 16, 2014
Very popular congolese folk assembly, with main goal to promote the african and congolese art and culture. Big performance, percusition, live music and dynamic dance, accompnied of high show. More than 25 young singers, dancors, musicians are able to take you over the wellknown african movings
Example #7: BAYUDA DU CONGO, KADIYOYO 2015, TSHINTUA NDEMBA
Eugene Jpx, Published on Jan 3, 2015
NOUVEL ALBUM DE KADIYOYO BAYUDA DU CONGO Nouvelle Génération 2015
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