Music for peace and children in Goma

With the young reporters and thousands of children in Goma, we just celebrated the second annual Amani Festival (“peace” in Swahili, the language spoken throughout Eastern DRC). The Amani Festival is a campaign for peace to remind people, in the Congo and around the world, that even though there are difficult moments, numerous efforts are being made to reduce these situations.

Building a peaceful society through music and dance

For three days, the festival invited artists committed to promoting peace and respect for rights to bring a message of peace and a tranquil atmosphere to Goma and the region. JC Wenga, head of festival communication, explains: Our main objective for this year was to bring people with different backgrounds together through music and dance and build a peaceful society through moments of exceptional unity, love, brotherhood and coalition.

We talked to each of the young reporters to find out the festival-goers’ feelings on the matter. Ella, a student at the Mwanga Institute, told us that Amani was a good opportunity to talk to other people and discover many things at the booths. Yves shared this phrase with us: It’s very moving for me, the spirit of peace is still present. Blaise told us that his participation in the festival was the stone he was contributing to building peace.

Together to promote the rights and duties of Children

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We all worked together, the children and the young reporters, with the Children’s Parliament and the local NGO ODH at the UNICEF booth in order to inform festival-goers about the rights and duties of children. Like Suzanna said, As a young reporter, we have discussions with the festival-goers about the health, development, protection and participation of children.”

Like last year, our booth was a great success; it was the most visited thanks to the shows, the messages distributed on a small scale in Swahili by children, the music, the large screen showing videos of our activities and the contests centered on Children’s rights.

During the festival, we realized by talking to the children and youths that they are not only discovering their rights, equality and fairness that should exist among all children, but also their duties. For example, a child has the right to education but also a duty to help his parents. When a child takes advantage of one of his rights, he should make an effort and help his parents by encouraging them to let him benefit from other rights, for example by working hard in school and doing some light housework before going to school.

Reaching Goma youths through music with Back-to-school

At Amani, as with all the large awareness events, we teamed up with the young “Back-to-school” artists including child musicians, singers and dancers whose goal is to promote Children’s rights. We complement each other because the musicians can reach out those who are unable to read and the Goma people love music.

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This year, one of them, Will Stone, appeared on the festival’s big stage. His songs talked about Children’s rights and peace. For example, his song “sitaki ma problèmes” (I don’t want any problems) called for the armed groups who are abusing people throughout the region to stop their crimes. Will Stone also talked about youth problems in Goma, such as the lack of water that forces children to risk venturing into town at night to collect water.

After winning the Glamor of the Year prize in New York, Melissa Kasoke, the back-to-school youth ambassador, give us her impression of the festival: On the first day, I stood at the podium to sing with the entire Back-to-school team and everyone supported us. Today, I am happy to be in the crowd to support other artists like myself who are singing for peace.

More photos:

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Photo: UNICEF RDC 2015 Justin Kasereka

Translated from French by Gail Somers.

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