Alban Malanda loves to connect with people. It’s one reason why he offered to serve as a member of Champlain Housing Trust’s Rental Resident Advisory Committee. He feels it’s important that residents have a place to advocate for themselves.
“That’s a place where my voice can easily be heard relating to some situations that face residents. I wanted also to be representative as an African from Africa to contribute to the development of our community.”
Alban has been a CHT resident since 2019, when he was among the first people to move in to the brand new Laurentide Apartments in Burlington.
“I was happy to see all this green environment, trees, mountains, hills, farms, Lake Champlain. I didn’t have lots of difficulties to socialize with others because I spoke little bit of English from my country.”
His connection with people extends to one of his other passions: music.
And there was plenty of it to enjoy at this year’s Champlain Housing Trust Members’ Day Picnic. The annual gathering of CHT residents, donors and staff created a fantastic atmosphere at North Beach in Burlington. Perhaps the most energetic part of the day was when Alban took the mic under his stage name BUTALAKWAZEBI JACK BAUER CONGOLAIS 24H CHRONO.
His dynamic performance of Congolese music quickly gained the attention of the crowd. The rhythms not only earned a strong round of applause, but they even drew a few people out of their seats to dance.
“My favorite part of performing in front of people is when people sing and dance together with me.”
It’s clear from seeing Alban perform that he takes incredible pride in Congolese music and its influence on music throughout the world.
“All Congolese music, every style, comes from Rumba. The right name of that music in Kongo language was called Mukumba meaning belly button. That changed in Cuba during slavery because of the mispronunciation of Spanish speaking people and Mukumba became Rumba. We use drums and the main instruments are guitars. Nowadays, Rumba is played all over the world.”
He has been making and performing music for four years now. He does it all on his own, creating the music, promoting it in the community. The songs provide a connection to his childhood in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo. It’s a positive, energetic sound that touches on a variety of topics including his life back in Brazzaville and his loved ones who are still there.
Alban arrived in Vermont on his own. He has a wife and children back in the Republic of the Congo who he’s working to bring to the United States. He’s found community among the sizeable Congolese population in Chittenden County.
“This is an awesome place to live, peaceful, clean and quiet. What I like the most is that I have a nice view to the Lake Champlain. I would tell people to come rent and live in CHT housing because the service is good, the rent amounts are affordable and they will live like home.”
Alban sees many opportunities ahead. He is currently studying at Community College of Vermont and wants to realize his dream of owning a home. Of course, he is also excited to continue making new music that gets people out of their seats to dance.