Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Polio" by Staff Benda Bilili

There's an article about a Congolese band in the LA Times today. The band is named Staff Benda Bilili, and they're the subject of a recent documentary, because most of the men in the band are physically disabled. (The print version of the article has more groaningly cliched headlines than the online version. You can probably imagine them.)

They were a street band in Kinshasa when they were discovered. Some of their songs are about disability, including this one, "Polio":

The visuals are of members of the band singing, playing music, and being assisted by groups of children to move their wheelchairs over dirt roads. It's clear that some of their chairs are built from parts of motorcycles, wagons, carts, and bicycles. Some of the scenes also include men using crutches. Some of the daylight scenes are filmed outside a disability assistance center, according to the signage. The notes say that the performance sections of the video were made at the zoo in Kinshasa.

The lyrics aren't in English, but there are English subtitles translating them:
I was born as a strong man but polio crippled me
Look at me today, I'm screwed into my tricycle
I have become the man with the canes
The hell with those crutches!

Parents, please go to the vaccination center
Get your babies vaccinated against polio
Please save them from that curse

My parents had the good idea to register me for school
Look at me now: I'm a well-educated person
which enables me to work and support my family

Parents please don't neglect your children
The one who is disabled is no different from the others
(why should he?)
Treat all your children without discrimination
(don't throw anyone on the side)
Who among them will help you when you're in need?
God only knows who


Disability Products said...

Cool video! I love your blog.

Marketa said...

You did it again, where do you find this stuff!! thanks a lot!