The second largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 1.7 million inhabitants, Lubumbashi is situated along the mining region of the Copperbelt. As the copper and malachite industries have long been the backbones of the local economy, Lubumbashi is committed to giving new impetus to the city’s development by using creativity to highlight its industrial legacy. With more than 50 workshops dedicated to malachite carving, city policies reflect the trade’s stature as a key lever to stimulate employment.
Workers from the copper mines have anchored many artistic expressions in the city’s cultural identity, from street performance to popular theatre and music including karindula and brakka. This vast amount of creativity has led to the creation of the Copper Eaters Festival, which for the last fifteen years has celebrated artisan work. This event is central to the city’s strategy to foster urban vitality, cultural participation and social cohesion. In addition, the city hosts the Picha Encounters, also referred to as the Lubumbashi Biennale for Visual Arts, which is known as one of the most innovative and experimental cultural events in Africa for showcasing urban-related works of art.
So far, culture and creativity within the city has been developing in the informal sphere. However, the Municipality, together with civil society, is keen to work towards developing a comprehensive policy framework for culture. Current measures facilitate the establishment of cultural organizations and creative industries, as well as increase the number of training programmes and job opportunities for artists and artisans. Lubumbashi is eager to develop its networks further with the aim of allowing this post-industrial city to advance with a sustainable urban renewal and development path, using culture and creativity as a driver.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Lubumbashi envisages:
- undertaking research on the production and dissemination, as well as social impact, of crafts and folk art by valorising the city’s mining legacy and the status of artisans;
- developing local, regional and international networks of craftspeople to increase employment opportunities and training offered for young people;
- involving other Creative Cities of Crafts and Folk Art to undertake research on contemporary approaches to the notion of folk art, as well as on collective memory in post-industrial cities; and
- supporting fair trade of works of craft and folk art in the global market.