Congolese playwrights such as Guy Mendga, Sylvain Bemba or poets such as M. Ndebeka, Tchikaya U Tamsi, Patrice Lhoni, and Ferdinand Mouangassa have contributed to the success and evolution of the modern Congolese theater. Driven and inspired by Rocado Zulu theater (founded by Sony Labou Tansi), the Ngunga Artistic Troupe, Zenga-Zenga or Theatre de l’éclair of Emmanuel Dongala, Congolese theater tackles new issues such as gender empowerment, civil activism, democracy and development. In 2011, an international festival of theater arts was held in Brazzaville from December 08th to December 22nd, under the theme of “Brazzaville Urgence” to highlight some of the main features of Congolese theater. Several literary works of Congolese authors and poets like Sony Labou Tansi and Alain Mabanckou were interpreted by a diverse array of African actors. Sylvie-Diclo Pomos, a female Congolese theatrical performer, emphasizes the participation of women in modern Congolese theater. In 2011, she acted in one Sony Labou Tansi's plays known as 93 Mots dans un aquarium (93 words in an aquarium). A modern literature graduate from the Marien-Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Ms. Pomos represents the the Republic of Congo abroad at famous theater related events. In 2012, she participated at the 2012 Avignon Festival, a prestigious performing arts event that takes place every year in Avignon, France. The French Cultural Center (Institut Français du Congo) in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire is a committed supporter of Congolese theater arts. It often organizes events that honor Congolese theater arts and welcomes theater troupes to perform a vast array of plays.
Starting in the 1970’s, several film making Directors propel Congolese Cinema to the African audience: Alain Nkodia (Mami Wata, 1970), Jerôme Tsila (Zomba Nkounkou, 1972), Sebastien Kanga (La raçon d’une Alliance, 1975, La Légende de MPfoumou Ma Mazono) and Jean-Michel Tchissoukou (La Chapelle, 1979; les Lutteurs, 1982). Though modern Congolese film industry is not a full-fledged industry yet, the Ministry of Culture and Arts is dedicated to cooperate with Congolese film producers in order to boost a cinema renaissance that will focus on the daily lives of Congolese living in neighborhoods such as Bacongo, Poto-Poto and Talangaï.
Annette Kouamba, Claudia Haidara Yoka and Yacine Kimbembe, are amongst the most famous female Congolese film directors. Highly engaged in the new initiative to promote the modern Congolese cinema, and a positive image of women in the Congolese film industry, they set the tone for female perspectives on the ongoing changes in Congolese contemporary society.
Rubin Mbou, is another Congolese film director whose talents and skills have attracted international attention. His popular documentary movie known as "Tsofa" (Driver in Lingala) was released in 2011 and aired at numerous international film festivals. Tsofa revolves around the experience of several African immigrants and how their expectations of a brighter life in Europe are dashed through the realities of economic hardships and racism in Romania.
As a young film director and script writer in his early thirties, Amog Lemra, represents one of the most dominating voices of the modern Congolese film industry. He is best known for his highly acclaimed movies, Tombe d'un reve ( Tomb of a dream), Qui perd gagne ( Who loses wins) , and Identite malsaine ( unhealthy identity). In his movie, Identite malsaine, Lemra reveals the underlying effects of European assimilation on African immigrants' identity.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Music and dance are embedded in daily Congolese culture. Holding close musical ties with its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, homegrown music from both countries have traveled fluidly across the border resulting in similarly styled music with artists like Nino Malapet, Youlou Mabiala and Jean Serge Essous. Brazzaville has always been a major music scene and has produced popular bands or artists such as Extra-Musica, Bisso na Bisso and Les Bantous de la Capitale. Congolese music is certainly one of the most popular in Africa and has spread out throughout the entire continent in the different genres such as Congolese Jazz, Soukous, Ndombolo or Rumba. Musician, N’Zongo Soul reconnects with Walla, one of traditional rhythms of the Kongo people. Other modern Congolese musicians such as female singer Pierette Adams and French-Congolese rapper Passi have added a new blend of Carribean and French influence to contemporary Congolese music.
While music is a strong element in Congolese culture, dance is another element that helps Congolese connect with their rich ancestral roots. Some famous dance include the Kyébé-Kyébé of the Mbochis tribe or traditional stilt dancing with puppets decorated in very bright colors. The National Ballet of Congo fetches its inspiration from the tradition of paintings with dancing scenes.
The Republic of Congo holds many cultural events every year. However, the most popular cultural event is the FESPAM (Festival Panafricain de Musique or Pan African Music Festival). FESPAM is a major biennial cultural exchange and scientific event that aims to promote African music and that of its Diasporas in three different genres: traditional, modern and religious. In the past, FESPAM has welcomed famous singers such as Miriam Makeba, Lynsha, Bisso na Bisso, Youssou N’Dour, Face Idibia, Lady Ponce, and Fally Ipupa.
Several events are organized for this purpose:
- Music Concerts
It gathers great African musical talents that perform on different podiums across the city of Brazzaville.
- The Symposium
It gathers cultural and art experts for a scientific analysis of the FESPAM theme edition.
- The Market of African Music (MUSAF)
Focuses on the exhibition and sale of phonographic, video graphic and other music instruments. It is also a network place whereby professionals of the music and arts industry meet, discuss and exchange ideas.
- Exhibition of traditional music instruments at the Pan African Music Museum
it is a highly respected venue where the preservation and promotion of African tangible and intangible cultural heritage is studied and researched.
- FESPAM Beauty Pageant
It is one of most anticipated events of FESPAM and converges with music, beauty and fashion. Miss FESPAM beauty pageant is organized in collaboration with Club Promotion Esthétique de Brazzaville (Aesthetics Club of Brazzaville). Many beauty pageants come from different African countries participate in this event.
The FESPAM headquarter is located in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo. The headquarters are located in Bacongo, on l’Auberge Cascogne Avenue, next to the former Tele-Congo premises.
The ninth edition of FESPAM took place from July 13th to July 20th, 2013 in Brazzaville. Last year's theme had been determined as, " African Music: vector of authencity and factor of emergence."
The Feux de Brazzaville is a publicly accessible festival that takes places once every two years in the Republic of Congo. The festival aims to promote the traditional culture of Africa with a heavy emphasis on dance and music. The festival was born in 2005 and welcomes African artists, painters, dancers and anthropologists from all around the world. The last Feux de Brazzaville took place in Brazzaville from August 02nd to August 07th, 2012.