A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Politics and the Power of Pop
By Tanya Serdiuk
In many regards, Lubangi Muniania represents the new African man. He, as many of his generation, was forced to emigrate as a result of his countrys internal conflicts. Deeply cognizant of his history and tradition, Muniania has taken his commitment to his motherland, the Congo, and made himself into a cultural ambassador.

Confronted with myths, misperceptions, and just plain ignorance about African cultures, Muniania developed a venue which would promote a greater understanding of African cultures in the United States, and could bring isolated African communities together. Using music, not only could he educate Americans who were deeply ignorant in regards to Africa, but he could also reach African migrs who were unaware of the cultural riches of their neighboring countries. Like many Africans, he knows first-hand the important connections between culture and politics.

In the mid-90s, as the Director of Education at the Museum for African Art in New York City, he initiated one of their outstanding ongoing events, Satonge! Originally designed to present and document African musicians discussing their work, artistic techniques, and impact on social life, Satonge! did all that while showcasing some really hot dancing.

While Muniania has moved on from the Museum, he is steadfast in his belief that culture transforms political divisions. Aware of the political impact that musicians and artists have on the continent, his company, Tabilulu, brings African superstars to American and migr audiences. Muniania, as Koffi Olomides manager in the United States, arranged for his historic appearance at Lincoln Centers 2001 African music series and for his CNN interviews. Brooklyns Summerstage and Putumayos release Mali to Memphis have benefited from his expertise. Koffi Olomide, Kanda Bongo Man, Papa Wemba can fill stadiums when they perform on the Continent or in Europe. Although its still a bit of a tough sell here, soukous sizzles on either side of the Atlantic!

Muniania's business hasn't been exempt from the impact of Homeland Security or from the misperceptions of his countrymen. The 9/11 attack and America's response made it almost impossible for African musicians to travel and venues were reluctant to book foreign artists especially from countries in turmoil. Muniania himself was subjected to rumors that he was either in the pay of African dictators, or was using concert funds for purposes of destabilization.

Neither economic downturns nor baseless rumors have deterred Muniania from developing his dream of cultural positivity, or from believing in his homeland's strengths. While continuing to book tours for African superstars, he acts as a consultant and lecturer on African culture at schools, colleges, and museums.

His long-range goal? To create a cultural center back home. The foundations are built and the roof is up. Whats the Lingala equivalent for 'If you build it, they will come?' Tonga ndako, bantu bakozanga te!