Beat route: Congolese rumba bids for UN heritage listing

Kinshasa (AFP) –


DR Congo has given the official kick-off to a campaign to enshrine Congolese rumba, one of the most popular forms of music in Africa, on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The bid is being pushed by both the Democratic Republic of Congo and its smaller neighbour, the Republic of Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville.

Culture Minister Catherine Kathungu Furaha, in a ceremony in Kinshasa on Tuesday, called for Congolese embassies, universities, schools and social networks to throw their weight behind the effort.

Rumba "has been part of our identity, descendants of Africa and all of us, throughout the ages," she said.

The application to put rumba on the list was lodged last year.

The director general of the National Institute of the Arts, Andre Yoka Lye Mudaba, who is chairing the campaign committee, said work now lay in a "promotion and lobbying phase" which would unfold over the coming months.

Congolese rumba developed in the Congo River basin in the 1940s, inspired by Latin and Caribbean music.

It gained widespread popularity in the 1960s and 70s, developing spinoffs, including a high-tempo version called soukous.

The Cuban strain of rumba was admitted to the UNESCO list in 2016.