Crimes of Rumba: Volume I Congo Music
by Thierry Antha

"The legal and historical question is: why has this scam and fraud been going on as an open secret that so many people knew for decades without outrage?"

Antha’s exhaustive treatise on the history of Congo Latino, Congo Rumba, and Rumba Lingala asserts that political forces at play during the Belgian colonization of Congo did, in fact, perpetrate a fraud on the genre’s foreign listeners. The vast reach of the policy of forced labor under King Leopold of Belgium encompassed even the music and musicians of Congo, leading to the exploitation of Congo music. One result of this exploitation was a false narrative perpetuated by both state-appointed distributer, Fonior, and the music industry abroad concerning the origins of what became known as "Congolese modern music." Fuel for this false narrative was the state administration’s intentional creation and distributing of Congolese Rumba as an African form of music influenced by Cuban music. Antha seeks to trace and explain the origins of Congo music, its authentic purposes, the relationship between the church and Congo’s music, and its unscrupulous handling by the state for profit. The truth concerning Congolese music has, to date, been subdued, allowing the wide acceptance of Fonior's post-colonial fraud.

Antha’s subject matter is fascinating, and he backs his argument with not only the laws and policies of the Belgian Congo but with insights offered by Congolese musicians and various lawsuits concerning the issue. The author presents an interesting argument in this legal study of Congo music’s misappropriation under Belgian colonialism. His passion for the subject is evident throughout the book, as is his concern for the integrity and authenticity of Congo music and its musicians. As Antha outlines his argument, he gives examples of the exploitation of the music and musicians of Congo with whom he, a musician and record producer himself, collaborated. The author offers a staggering amount of well-researched information outlining various areas of fraudulence by factions within Belgian Congo and the music industry.

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