5 Men You Didn’t Know Were Congolese
There’s just over a week to go till Congolese Independence Day (June 30). Which can only mean one thing – there’s even LESS time to go till LISAPO: The Congolese Tales hits Band On The Wall with a live arts event celebrating the cultures, histories and people of Manchester’s thriving Congolese community. We can’t wait! Make sure you get your tickets before they go: http://bandonthewall.org/events/4365/.
In the meantime, here’s something to tide you over through the countdown to the day itself. We were so inspired by all the wonderful things we learned about Congolese women in our ‘Spotlight On Congolese Women’ series that we thought we’d share some more of the DRC’s most impressive individuals. Introducing: five men from the DRC! Question is, did you know they were Congolese? Take a look…
1. Vincent Kompany: Footballer & philanthropist
Vincent Jean Mpoy Kompany – star player at Manchester City FC, humanitarian and Manchester University student.
Not only is Kompany part Congolese, he’s also now (courtesy of a 2008 transfer to Manchester City FC) a Manc! Our kind of guy. His father, Pierre Kompany, is from Kinshasa, and his mother Jocelyne is Belgian. Between them they obviously had the right genetic coding for soccer stardom: both of the Kompany sons went on to become top class footballers, and Christel Kompany (Vincent’s sister) is the chairman of BX Brussels, a youth football team with an ethical lens that the Kompanys founded in their home town. As team captain at Man City, Kompany led the blues to an exciting Premier League win on homeground earlier this year.
With so much of his public profile centred on his million-dollar feet, its easy to forget about all of the offside action going on in this Belgian-born ‘baller’s head. When he’s not on the pitch, Vincent can be found in the library – he’s a part-time Business Administration student at Manchester Business School. He is also an international ambassador for the Congolese branch of SOS Children’s Villages, a charity that provides parentless children with a loving home in an SOS village.
2. Eddie Kadi: Creative comedian
Eddie Kadi – Comedian, actor, radio presenter, musician.
Born in Kinshasa, DR Congo in 1983, Eddie Kadi is cleaning up the UK comedy scene with his unique light-hearted, unpredictable, laugh a minute style. He has played sell-out gigs at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, Indig02 and Hackney Empire, and won a heap of different awards for being such an all round funny man. But it’s not only laughs he’s after – Kadi’s creativity extends far beyond the borders of comedy. He studied Media Technology at Kingston University, has appeared in films like Anuvahood (2012), presented radio shows for 1Xtra and Choice FM, voiced various characters for TV and film, and worked with Senegalese-American rapper Akon and UK artist Sway on different social and musical projects. Phew – busy guy!
Check out this hilarious clip of him at BBC3’s Comedy Empire:
3. Fabrice Muamba: the A-grader
Born in Kinshasa, Fabrice Muamba had a successful career playing for Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers football clubs from the age of 15. He was forced to retire from football two years ago, after he miraculously recovered from a near-death experience: his heart stopped beating for an hour following his collapse during a Bolton football match.
However, Muamba has not let the discovery that he suffers from a rare heart condition hold him back from a career in sport, and is now studying towards a BA in Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University. He also has another new role – chief taste-tester for his wife Shauna’s brand new company: ‘Mrs. Muamba’s’ is a brand new range of seriously tasty looking Caribbean cooking sauces coming to a supermarket near you!
Fabrice has also spoken about his experiences of being forced to leave Congo aged 11 for UN World Refugee Day.
4. Mohombi: To Sweden, with style
Mohombi Nzasi Moupondo – Swedish R/N/B singer and dancer.
Raised in Kista, a small Swedish town on the outskirts of Stockholm, Kinshasa born Mohombi has become a huge success on dancefloors across Europe, North America and Africa. He’s performed at venues all over the world, and features the likes of Nicole Scherzinger on his tracks. Having started his musical career as part of a Swedish hip hop group, Avalon, recent years have seen him branch out into a distinct, dancehall-influenced sound for his solo studio efforts. Perhaps its no surprise that he moves between different musical styles so fluidly – he does, after all, speaks five languages (Lingala, Swahili, French, Swedish and English)!
5. Merveille Lukeba: Screen star
Merveille Lukeba – UK-based film and TV actor
Born in Kinshasa in 1990 and raised in South London, Merv has racked up an impressive list of acting credits over the past 8 years. Fans of the BAFTA-winning E4 teen drama Skins will recognise him – in perhaps his biggest role to date, Merveille played troubled Congolese immigrant Thomas Tomone in the hit series’ 3rd and 4th seasons.