Based in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, MALABO is a company specializing in the creative industries in the aim of promoting, managing talent in this vast country that is best known for its natural gems and minerals.
At MALABO we believe that artists are the true Congolese gem as the country is awash with talent. We offer services and strategic management in four areas: fashion, arts, media, and entertainment- we like to keep it short and say “FAME”. Since our creation in 2011, we have collaborated in a number of projects including with the late musical great Papa Wemba; participated in the first two editions of the groundbreaking Congo Fashion Week.
Diamonds and pearls
It’s been said that the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has the size of Western Europe and has given us musical greats like Papa Wemba, Tabu Ley, Franco and Pepe Kale and events like the “Rumble in the Jungle” is a “geological scandal”: It’s rich in rare-earth minerals, minerals that are used in the terminal that I am using to type this, that you are using to read this text. Across this vast land, titanium, copper, diamonds and many others are awash. These resources have also proven to a curse (we won’t get into that here). So while major corporations are digging from their gems, we at Malabo have been digging for other kinds of gem.
We believe that people are the real gems, and among this land of some 80 million souls, there is a particular gem that we are looking for: we call them artists.
MALABO was formally established in October 2012 to “promote DR Congo’s best gems: its artists”. The country is awash with artists in the largest sense of the word, raw, pure talent at every corner. Whether in the hustle and bustle of the capital city Kinshasa, or in the hills of Goma, or in the mineral-induced heat of Lubumbashi, we dare to say that the country is also an “artistic scandal”. When we started in 2012, we were involved in music, mainly collaborating and working with the late Papa Wemba; we also started supporting a dance troop led by one of the lead dancers of Wemba’s Viva La Musica orchestra, but after about a year we ceased our collaboration.
In April 2015, we bought our first painting, a 100cm square piece made by young Congolese artist Mbela Mambueni. Several weeks we signed Mbela to a partnership agreement. A few months later, we “discovered another gem”, Frederic Kuku, and then a third artist, Wess Itshiri. All three are below 30 years of age, all graduates of the Academie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, a once prestigious school that attracted students all over Africa that has lost its luster. The artists paint. We do everything else, we manage them.
In October 2016, Kuku and Mbela participated in the Salon de l’art africain, a new kid on the block in terms of art events in Paris. Since March, Kuku, Mbela and Wess are showcasing 28 of their paintings at the Pefaco Hotel in Brazzaville, Congo, with “Kongo moko” [One Congo], our first show of the year. While “Kongo moko” is ongoing, back across the river in Kinshasa, Kuku, 22 years old, opened on 20 April his first solo show at the Pullman Hotel in Kinshasa, showing 60 paintings.
Amid more pressing, basic human needs, arts are not the first thing that comes to mind to Congolese, nor the first thing in which Congolese want to invest in. But we believe that arts and culture can’t wait for peace, prosperity and that everything is all pretty and lined up to exist. While others are working on peace and development, we are working on telling the story of this land blessed with talent. While others are getting their hands their hands dirty with blood, our hands are dirty from all their oil and acrylic used to paint a different, more honest picture of this vast land.
We are MALABO, we are promoting DR Congo’s greatest gems: its artists. Today, we are currently promoting three young painters: Frederic Kuku, Mambueni Mbela, and Wes Itshiri. We invite you to discover them. At MALABO we don’t have offices. We are open 24 hours. We are creative. We are talented. We are multicultural. We are MALABO. Ready? Let’s go!!
Malabo Gallery, the Arts Department of The Malabo Group, acquired this painting from a young and obviously talented Congolese artist. This painting was made in 20 mns to the tune of a dancing company who were performing on stage while the artist was painting. Bridging the gap, marrying artistic genres is at the core of our company. Enjoy the work!!
Travel in the universe of Teke, Nande and Koro in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country rich in culture with its ethnic quatrecentaine, its much rich heritage.