Carving music out of garbage

Tuesday February 11 2020

recycling wastes

Form recycling wastes, the band crafts its musical instruments and Costumes, PHOTO | ANDREW. I KAZIBWE 

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One man’s meat is anther man’s poison, and so goes the saying. This is exactly what a Congolese music band Fulu Miziki has demonstrated in music scene.

To up its creativity, the band used recycled waste to build its music instruments to build a unique image while on the stage.

Africa’s crafting of music instruments has overtime been overshadowed by modern technology, enabling of one to easily virtually compose music, but Fulu Miziki quite takes a unique lane as from recycling garbage, it makes musical instruments and costumes, hence pulling off unique stage performances.

The band’s recent performance at Mamba Club in Kigali follows the 2019 Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja, Uganda, where it left a lasting impression. Initiated in 2003 by Pisko Crane Ewango Mabende, who is also the inventor and creator of musical instruments, the eight-member band consists of Lady Aïcha Mena Kanieba, a lead vocalist, a performer, who crafted the style of unique costumes, Déboule Bokungako, Sekelembele Bekila, Tshetshe Yenge, Padou Nkoyi, Vakanda and Abbé la Roche.

It is evident how the band has further branded its craft.

Unlike most, Fulu Miziki stands out first through its band set, comprising unique instruments of African sounds and feel —passing on another special craft and sound to be embraced into the world stage.


With DRC, grappling with garbage recycling as one of its persistent challenges, the youthful band seeks innovative means of being part of the solution, through recycling.

Though fully self-financing, Fulu Miziki dwells on the bewilderment it holds on audiences through its music, than the initial trouble of crafting the music.

Crafted from garbage, Pisko Crane artistically takes time to sort and further emerge with distinctive sound components. For instance, the guitar is weaved with a body out of a Desktop Computer Disk reader, strings connecting to the wooden frets held by metallic tuning pegs.

The Drums made out of old saucepans and plastic cans.

The piano of unique metallic plates, assembled with aluminum bottles and cans, which when hit; these produce different sound. Other instruments are made from huge Bamboo trunks and refrigerator Compressors, basing on the sound intonation they radiate.

All these are manually connected to microphones, which amplify the compositions to life.

“Creating from recycled materials is a bit difficult,” said Pisko Crane adding that: “You have to listen a lot, plan a lot to have good sound resonance.”

The process involves re search, all the way through trashcans so as to find viable materials, or inquiring from neighbours or even repair shops, which may not be in need of certain appliances.

Although instruments are made from unused items, some investment in form of money is required to make purchases of springs, glue and nails among other essential items that aren’t found in garbage according to Pisko.

Energetic and electronic feel is what Fulu Miziki exercises on stage, yet it passes on this all to the audiences, which directly reciprocates.

Songs of Lingala and French lyrics, coupled with rhythmic dance move the band delivers a nonstop stage presentation.

As the group’s Costume Lady Aïcha, a designer, who is also a plastic artist, makes a statement for her costume style, which was introduced since 2016.

Patching cotton-leather trousers and shirts with soft-plastic material, and other silver-like embroidery, the band members reflect on a superstar image, like another enormous set of superheroes, but here to entertain and yet passing on a message, which is definitely ‘Saving Mother Nature.’

Fulu Miziki’s stage presence introduces a rare mood. With music of the Afro-pop culture, the band is powered by heavy metallic vibe from the fusion of the instruments. In DRC, Fulu Muziki has before played at the French Institute in Kinshasa, Awe Art cultural Center in Kinshasa and Jazz Kir Festival in Kinshasa.

As part of its future plans, the band is in plans of recording albums, featuring with other artists from around the world.

It hopes to further continue playing and making musical performances across the continent, while fronting the exportation of its unique instruments, costumes, masks and sculpture culture in line with attracting of the new generation from all over the world.