David Dube Ndayomba popularly known as Double D, a Congolese reggae singer based in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has thrown his weight behind the fight against the Ebola crisis, but this time using music as the tool.
Double D, founder of Peace Fighters International, a local music label based in Goma says the label has been helping promote the talent of young artistes in Goma to use music as weapon for change.
He drew his music inspiration from raggae musicians Bob Marley and Lucky Dube, which explains how he got one of his names ‘Dube’. The name was given to him by his father who himself was a big fan of the late singer, Lucky Dube. This also explains how he ended up in the reggae genre.
The Eastern part of the DRC has been grappling with an Ebola epidemic for six months now, which has left a trail of fractured families and hundreds of orphans in its wake.
More than 512 cases of Ebola had been confirmed, as of December 20 while 288 people have died of the virus in DRC. This year’s outbreak has become the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.
The disease is concentrated in Beni, in the North Kivu province which is adjacent to the border of Uganda.
A music group that Double D founded way back in 2012 at the peak of the war in the region has evolved with seven members now singing about peace and peaceful co-existence in a region devastated by war.
His first hit single ‘Watoto Apana Magesi’ was a message against recruitment into war activity of child soldiers.
“These children are the future of Congo, they are very innocent but when they are arrested and recruited into the armed forces, their future is ruined and it is a hard truth that many don’t want to talk about,” the singer told SoftPower News in an interview held in Kampala this week.
He is currently in Kampala to finish up a music project.
He said that his and the crew’s role has been to use music as their tool to send out messages of hope, peace and togetherness.
But while progress is being made along those lines, there is a new challenge which is equally threatening like the protracted war was – Ebola.
And the singer is determined to employ the same approach to fight it.
He described to SoftPower News the magnitude of the Ebola threat and the lives of hundreds it has claimed within areas of Butembo, Benini and Goma, North Kivu where he was raised.
This personal attachment to the Ebola impact is what made it even important for him to take on the role as an advocate against the disease.
Double D recently released a song tited ‘Stop Ebola’ which elaborates his stand on fighting Ebola and goes ahead to spell out how he thinks the situation should be managed. The audio came out in November under his Peace Fighters Records studio.
In Kampala, he is in the process of shooting the music video for the song, which he hopes will help amplify the message to a wider audience beyond his physical reach. He explained that the reason for coming to Kampala was to get quality production which would give the video the standard required to get major airplay.
As it stands, the task (controlling the spread of Ebola) he faces requires to speak to as many as people. Therefore, the higher the number of televisions playing it and the more circulation it gets on other media, the higher the impact of sensitization.
He has a series of concerts lined up to officially launch the song and his campaign against Ebola. But to accomplish this, he says, he needs as much partners and support as he can get. Worth noting is – North Kivu province where the epidemic is now concentrated has in recent weeks been a hotspot for numerous attacks by armed militia, making it even more difficult for health workers to make interventions.
Dube says the efforts against Ebola should be concerted and involving all the other stakeholders including government.
He partly attributes the sustained damage inflicted by the virus to the ignorance of the populace and the perception that Ebola is related to witchcraft. Such perceptions, he says, are dragging the efforts against the epidemic.
While government, experts, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies deal with more complex issues like vaccination, containing the threat of local militia groups, Double D is more concerned with educating the masses on the basic Dos and Donts if they are to keep safe from catching the virus.
His advantage is – the barriers like distance and insecurity won’t stop his songs from reaching the audience.
“Symptoms of Ebola are clear. People just need to know that they should keep a distance, avoid body contacts with infected blood and or body fluids, wash their hands and above all, get vaccinated or be vigilant and alert Doctors of any uncertain condition in their community,” Double D said.
According to him, until these simple things are shared rightly with the population, many more people risk dying yet their lives could have been saved.
He appealed to government to join the campaign to put an end to Ebola.
Double D says he will do everything possible to ensure that not more person in the DRC perishes as a result of a painful yet preventable disease.