This is the outcome of a WhatsApp call between my parents in Belgium and me in Canada about the final chapter of their house in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They recalled how two Zairean Ph.D. students, who just met in Brussels, decided to buy a house in Kinshasa without seeing it. They bought a home to prepare for their return to Zaire/DR Congo together after their academic program. The return never happened. Now retired, they just sold the house 36 years later. The house my brothers and I never grew up in is gone.
Like any call with my parents, I learned about way more than what I asked for. It is a snippet of the experiences and trajectories of the Congolese diaspora of their generation in Belgium. It is also a glimpse of how I experienced it as their child who left that same Belgium as soon as they could. The House of Kinshasa is a five-part sound project about the diasporic realities of transmission, return, and housing for a family spread over DR Congo, Belgium, and Canada. In this first part, I intertwine my parents’ story with my perspective, field recordings, and bits of CKUT’s archive. With the participation of my mother and my father.
Audio sources from CKUT’s archive include (in order):
- Café. CKUT, 24 Jun 2022
- “Child presentation.” Homelessness Marathon 2005. CKUT, 11 Jan 2005
- “Origins of the XX Files.” XX Files. CKUT, 25 May 2016
- “Economic Empowerment.” Black Talk. CKUT, 31 Jan 1992
- “Roundtable Discussion on Black Identity as Immigrants to Canada.” CKUT, n.d.
- “Diana Sharpe Interviews Prof. Joel Harder and Analyzes the Lumber Situation in Congo.” Amandla. CKUT, 2007
- “Roberta Bondar, Canadian astronaut, Discovery Space Shuttle.”, CKUT, n.d.
- Black Talk. CKUT, 1991, cassette side B
Po B. K. Lomami (Pauline Batamu Kasiwa Lomami) is a self-taught undisciplinary artist, art administrator, and artistic and public programmer. They are a Congodescendant from Belgium currently based in Tiohtià:ke-Mooniyang-Montreal. Exploring Afrofuturist principles and methodologies, Lomami’s art practice revolves around the displacement of work, the becoming of their subjectivity, and the possible collective futures with black, crip, queer and Afrofeminist perspectives.