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In the vibrant capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, an annual arts festival known as the KinAct Festival is painting the town green, quite literally. Congolese artists don incredible costumes crafted from trash, morphing their city’s streets into a striking tableau of activism. This spectacular act addresses not just the aesthetic potential of waste but also the escalating pollution problem in Kinshasa.
Source: Al Jazeera English/Youtube
Junior Mungongu, a local artist, constructs an interactive costume out of plastic bottles and lids to critique the city’s lax attitude towards single-use plastics. He roams the city streets in his unique garb, inviting people to participate by affixing plastic bottles to his costume. This interactive engagement serves as a metaphorical mirror, reflecting the concerning proliferation of plastics in the country.
Another captivating character, Jean Precy Numbi Samba, known as “Robot Kimbalambala,” sources materials from abandoned cars to create his surrealistic ensemble. Samba’s ‘armor’ of repurposed metal sheets and wires symbolizes the rampant consumption and waste in the DRC, while reminding us of the continent’s issues with outdated imported vehicles failing to meet basic emission standards.
The visuals from this festival are so compelling that they’ve inspired Brussels-based photographer Colin Delfosse to create “Fulu Act,” a portrait series of the KinAct artists. The series captures the essence of this creative approach to addressing the country’s environmental challenges without resorting to cliches.
However, this artful advocacy emerges from the harsh reality of Kinshasa’s Pollution crisis, exacerbated by rapid population growth and lagging waste management infrastructure. With a population of about 17 million, Kinshasa, where 75% of the residents live in slums, faces a daily production of around 9,000 tons of garbage, including 1,500 tons of plastic waste that block rivers and cause flooding.
While these artists creatively highlight this significant issue, it’s also an earnest call to action for us all. Let’s remember that every effort counts when it comes to sustainability, whether it’s reducing our use of single-use plastics, recycling more diligently, or educating others about the environmental crisis. Each action matters, and every voice can make a difference.
Next time you reach for that plastic bottle or discarded piece of metal, consider its potential – maybe not as a costume, but as an opportunity to participate in sustainable practices. Let’s join these Congolese artists in their inspiring mission. Today, why not make one change that leads us towards a greener future? Let’s act now and be the change we wish to see in the world.
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