"Débrouillez-vous pour vivre."

Staff Bendea Bilili, Congo's paraplegic musicians. (NPR photo)

Staff Bendea Bilili, Congo's paraplegic musicians. (NPR photo)

Or, less enchanting, “Sort yourselves out to stay alive.”

During the 32 year rule Mobutu Sese Seko, the above phrase was the unwritten law of the Congo, a state that still provides scant public benefits. One group of individuals, however, has been able to overcome this attitude and is bringing the Congo to the world at the same time.

In Kinsasha, a group of paraplegic polio victims with homemade instruments formed a band that is climbing the European charts. Staff Bendea Bilili (which means “show what’s hidden”) started out playing in parking lots for the rich. Now, they are on a 7-week tour of Europe. Their album is called “Très, Très Fort.”

“We tried to sing with able-bodied musicians but it didn’t work,” says band member Theo Nsituvuidi. “They weren’t happy with us, they didn’t want to play with us, so we did it ourselves.”

More, from the Economist, here.

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