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Abstract

This article discusses the use of two forms of music by refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kampala, Uganda. With persisting violence in the DRC, and legal and physical insecurity in Kampala, the Congolese wish neither to return nor to remain in Uganda; pervasive mistrust and fear of other Congolese prevents the development of a "refugee community" in the city, and disqualifies it as a potential home. But through Gospel music in a Pentecostal church and rumba lingala in a Congolese bar create two limited environments in which contrasting forms of "home" may be imagined, and a fraught situation marginally ameliorated. In Gospel music the participants look forward to the heavenly home, in rumba the audience look back to Congo, and thus both of these manifestations of home raise the question of "continuity maintenance" in subtle ways, music being used both to remember certain elements of a former home and to forget others, creating spaces of comfort that can aid in coping with the past and the present. The significance and utilisation of each genre of music is notably dependent on its relative association with the Congolese nation and the position of that genre in Ugandan society. While taking comfort in such temporary senses of home experienced through music, refugees are unanimous in their desire to find a permanent home, defined by security, outside of both Uganda and Congo. Homes and communities created by music are fundamentally limited, yet powerful and invaluable in the temporary mitigation of suffering.

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