You may not associate Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic with a vibrant music scene.
Well, Bangui does have a one which is gaining attention. One of the bands adding spice to the music business is the Canon Star a house hold name in the Central African Republic.
The ten-member band is back on the road, performing at venues across the country after a three-year hiatus, prompted by the political crisis in the country.
“We have lost at least 10 musicians during the crisis, they were all assassinated, they were killed cowardly , because they spoke out against certain things or because scores needed to be settled. So people were killed, there were bullets everywhere, other people died from diseases, so musicians have suffered a lot in the country,” said band leader, Aby Ngomateke.
CAR suffered the worst crisis in its history, when m ainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power in early 2013, triggering reprisals by Christian anti-balaka militias.
The country is slowly regaining normalcy and for many there is no better way to relax than at a Canon Star concert.
The political crisis meant that the Canon Star band was unable to book venues or find an audience willing to pay to watch them perform.
“The crisis has terribly affected musicians, because musicians in this country can only live off the profits that they make from concerts. They don’t own rights to their music, and when there is a political crisis, it’s the musicians who suffer because they can no longer perform. It brings a lot of problems because they have no money. Today, when a musician releases a new song, for example when comparing to musicians in Kinshasa (DRC), who can release a song and sell 20 to 30,000 copies, here in CAR, songs are pirated, up to 30,000 pirated copies are made, but no one buys music,” added Ngomateke.
The band which is popular for it sound which mixes traditional African music and rumba is struggling to grow their music in a country where there are hardly any record companies or music producers.