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Angola: Rappers beaten up before manifestation

26 March 2012
Six musicians and activists who were in a meeting to prepare for a public protest demonstration were violently attacked by unidentified aggressors. The episode was just one of more violent attacks on musicians and other activist during the days that lead up to the demonstrations of 10 March 2012.

By Chici Vieira, Freemuse’s correspondent in Angola


On 9 March 2012, a small group of young hip-hop artist and political activists had come together in a private home in Angola’s capital Luanda to discuss the last details of an anti-government manifestation they had planned for the following day. Suddenly the door opened and around 12 men dressed in black, with caps and dark glasses walked in and started beating up the activists with metal palls.

The beating went on for about five minutes. None of the aggressors said a word. Then two of the musicians managed to escape out of the door, where they found another six men waiting. After a few more minutes, the attackers left the spot as sudden as they had arrived and disappeared in cars without number plates.

Badly injured
Four of the musicians were seriously hurt with deep lesion in their heads, two got minor injuries. After the attack, one of the victims, DJ Cavera, contacted Freemuse asking for assistance in their fight for justice, freedom of expression and their constitutionally protected right to demonstrate peacefully.

The episode was just one of more violent attacks on musicians and other activist during the days that lead up to the demonstrations of 10 March 2012. On the day of the demonstration, a small group of about 30 people gathered peacefully in the Luanda suburb Cazenga, and were met with more violence from unidentified aggressors. The police was present at the spot, but did not intervene.

Several rappers were badly injured, among them Luaty Beirão, also known as “Brigadeiro Mata Frakus”. One opposition party leader, Filomeno Lopes Vieira from the Democratic Bloc, was also badly hurt.

Musicians, activists and sympathisers expressing their condemnation of the events at, among others, the blog club-k.net are not in doubt that the violence was ordered directly from the presidential level.

32 years in power
During the last year, Angola has seen a number of ‘Arab Spring’-inspired protests demanding that president José Eduardo Dos Santos, in power for 32 years, step down. Parliamentary elections of the oil rich, highly corrupt and economically extremely unequal country are set for September 2012, but no one expects that Dos Santos’ ruling MPLA-party will get challenged by the rather weak opposition.

Recently, the president appointed Suzana Inglés, a former leading MPLA member, as head of the National Electoral Commission to secure free and fair elections. Critics say that she is still closely engaged with the MPLA and the opposition has threatened to boycott elections if she is not replaced. The 10 March manifestation had as a specific objective to demand the removal from office of Suzana Inglés.

Musicians lead the protests
Critical voices are usually effectively repressed by the authorities in Angola and very limited public mobilization has occurred previously. There is, however, a milieu of critical hip-hop musicians, who have mainly operated underground, but inspired by the movements in Northern Africa started to move into the streets.

One of the most famous Angolan rappers is MCK, who just released a new album with the title ‘Proibido Ouvir Isso’ (Listening to this prohibited). He said to Voz de América that Angolan hip-hop is “a new tool for political participation that has brought back to life the revolutionary spirit of the music from the 1970ies, which was music against the colonial repression.”

According to the Angolan journalist Victor Vunge, who knows the hip-hop milieu from the inside, these musicians have played a protagonist role in organizing and mobilizing for the protests during the last year. They primarily use the internet and one of Angola’s few independent radio stations, Radio Despertar, to spread their music and messages, to mobilise and to document the attempts at silencing them.

State of the Nation
The perhaps most critical rapper of this movement, known as Brigadeiro 10 Pacotes, currently lives in exile in New York, from where he has strongly condemned the violent attacks. His latest release is called ‘The State of the Nation’, answering back on a speech with the same name held by the president in Parliament.

The lyrics include statements such as:

“The worst weapon in Angola is the disease of corruption
If you have money you have health,
if you don’t you die like a dog
The hospital beds are for sale,
the sick sleep on the floor
This is the crude reality
Angola is like a naked prostitute
where all the leaders unquestioned eat it all”

See the video here:



Small movement – growing sympathy
The first protest of the movement, planned in March 2011, was stopped by the authorities by massive arbitrary arrests of the suspected organizers, among them 17 rappers. (Read more…)

The movement is still limited to a few hundred activists who show up at demonstrations, but sympathies seem to be growing as the responses of authorities become more repressive. Hence, the latest wave of violence in Angola have been strongly contested by civil society organisations, opposition parties and even by individual characters from cultural and political life who are usually not very critical. All state directly that they are in no doubt that the government is behind the attacks.

 

 



DJ Cavera


Click to go to youtube.com
Injured activist

Photo from youtube video


Click to read more about Angola on freemuse.org
Angola

 

 
 

Music video with Tribo Sul
On 2 March 2012 the rapper Tribo Sul from DJ Cavera’s crew, First
Page, was kidnapped on his way to work and beaten up, allegedly
because of the video for the track ‘Marxa’ because the lyrics are
calling people to com to the streets, join the protests, and fight
for their rights.

 

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