The Criminal Father

It has been approximately four months since I last visited our music therapy program implemented alongside partners Panzi Foundation at their aftercare facility, Maison Dorcas, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On my first day back I immediately noticed a distinct change; as our beneficiaries filed into our recording studio, I observed they had all brought notepads with them containing lyrical, melodic and thematic ideas for songs – in the past, beneficiaries would often arrive empty handed, dependent on the guidance and creative prompting of our staff.

Along with their prepared ideas, they had mapped out which member should sing which part, behaving like a passionate and engaged band, tending deeply to their art and final product. The song they were working on was called “The Criminal Father.” It denounces the abusive, misogynistic, repressive (sometimes perpetrators) and unproductive men in their communities. It is a clever and sophisticated homage of defiance, dedicated to youth who have had negative experiences with irresponsible fathers or other authority figures, and advocates for more mature women in regards to their husbands.

“Our father, you caused us so much suffering,
If you get money you spend it on our own matters and now we live like orphans.”

Even more incredible is that it was one of the survivors who came up with the concept for the song and genesis of the lyrics. I can attest that in watching these women sing and record this piece with such strength, vigor and pride, was amazing. This song symbolises the life-changing power one has over re-framing their past, while carving out a new identity, one song and joyful voice at a time.


by Darcy Ataman

Founder, Make Music Matter


The above is a re-post of the original blog posted on the Humanitarian Innovation Fund website.


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