Tomorrow’s Marching Band

In the DRC, city life isn’t foremost defined by the image of the child soldier (contrary to what some campaigns would have you believe) but rather by that of the street child. Seen by many as a superfluous presence, a residue or a waste, street children become easy victims of gossip and accusations while at the same time, as a relatively new phenomenon, they are also hard to explain (children weren’t always used as scapegoats for families falling apart let alone considered as the cause of personal illnesses), ultimately turning into something of a danger and a threat that, according to all too many citizens, needs to be dealt with and ideally removed from the stuttering and improvisational city logics. The practice of labeling the street child as a witch is complex and has been receiving more and more attention over the years (particularly by foreign academics and journalists), and so have initiatives of individuals and local organizations investing their energy in keeping some of these children away from the street — and the accusations.

The above portrait (dating from 2010) by Dutch photographer Rachel Corner and anthropologist Laurens Nijzink, recorded in Kinshasa, is one such an example. It tells the stories of Dorcas, Christian and Cécile who were taken in by maman Cathy Ekemino and were given the opportunity to play in a brass band.

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