"Music Is Our Gun"
In the west, we hear hopeless stories about the war in Eastern Congo, so it's hard to imagine that anything positive could happen there. But war and violence is not the whole story. There is a growing peace movement in Goma, and it's got traction. Some of the most effective and inspiring voices in this movement are the artists.
Maisha Soul says, "Music is our gun."
Maisha in Swahili means "life". They are (left to right) Prince, Achilles, Eric, and Innocent Balume -- four brothers who chose to water the seeds of peace and hope rather than those of conflict and despair. They started their musical careers in 2002 in a refugee camp, after the Nyiragongo volcano erupted and everyone in Goma panicked and crossed into Rwanda.
The Congo war was supposed to be over, but their lives hadn't changed -- they were living as if the war continued. Life was painful in the refugee camp, and it seemed that despair gripped everyone there. This inspired the four brothers to sing. They sang to lighten hearts in the camp. They sang to lighten their own. They couldn't give in to the darkness. With pain and death everywhere, for them the only answer was love.
They continued to develop their music and became well known in Goma. Their lives changed when the youngest brother, Innocent, won an all-Congo music contest sponsored by Vodacom and Akon. He became an instant celebrity, and started a solo career in addition to his work with Maisha Soul. Now the Balume brothers perform all over the world as Maisha Soul -- The Soul of Life.
They continue to live and work in Goma.