Telephone Trottoire

Submitted by delboy on Fri, 2006-07-07 00:38.

Telephone Trottoire

Launched March 27th, 2006

The aim of the “Telephone Trottoire” project is to engage the London based Congolese community in issues that affect their day-to-day lives. “Telephone Trottoire” is based on a new form of “contagious” telephone application developed by Mongrel and named after the Congolese practice of “pavement radio” or the passing around of news and gossip between individuals on street corners.

In Central Africa people defy media censorship by sharing news and gossip using 'radio trottoire' or 'pavement radio'. Built in collaboration with the radio programmes “Nostalgie Ya Mboka” and “Londres Na Biso” (, "Telephone Trottoire" encourages London's Congolese community to pass around news stories and discuss them using a unique system of sharing content over the phone.

The project engages the Congolese community on their own terms by using systems that draw from their own culture, beliefs and folklore – some stories are intended to provoke, some to entertain and some to educate. All allow listeners to record their own comments and pass the call on to a friend or family member by entering their phone number. Some are true and some are false – after all isn’t this all about gossip – the “Telephone Trottoire”?

This project was initially launched as part of the NODE.London season of media arts taking place throughout March 2006 ( We are currently expanding the project and targetting it at several London Boroughs as well as similar migrant communities.

This is Koffi's introductory message users hear when they answer the call:

Congolese people. hello to you all - you are listening to Telephone Trottoire - a project run by Londre na Biso - our congolese radio show broadcast on radio resonance fm. As you know our people back home like talking and gossiping amongst friends – that’s our pavement radio. Today we have got something to share with you - After you've listened to today’s message you can make a comment and also pass it on to someone else to listen and make their comment. If you'd like to listen to today’s message - press 1 on your telephone keypad now.

Listen to the topic and read about:

1. Priests Power and Social Division
the power of Congolese priests in London and the responses we got.

2. Income Support
about Congolese who live on income support in the UK - is it a good idea to have income support in Kinshasa - would it work?.

3. Children's Rights
children are protected in Europe by law. If a child misbehaves a Congolese parent cannot discipline them for fear of the child involving social services - we ask people to compare this to how children are raised in DRC.

4. Child Witches
Congolese children in the UK can be accused by priests of being witches and are sent back to DR Congo by their families, where they become street orphans.

Read the report on the project here.