Congolese women and children are particularly vulnerable in Congo, and the lack of power and infrastructure, together with corrupt systems, impede the Congolese from taking different paths for their future. The purpose of Ukweli is to show a few powerful voices of Congolese artists and activists, and invite our global community to learn about how we’re connected and can support each other in our day to day choices. Together, we can change the global narrative.
By buying and sourcing conflict-free artisanal gold from the Congo and reducing the demand for conflict gold, you can make a real difference in people’s lives and help build prosperous communities and sustainable livelihoods. Consumers should ask the companies they purchase from to include conflict-free gold from Congo in their products and only buy from conflict-free suppliers. Investors should ask companies in their portfolios to disclose relevant information about the sourcing and due diligence conducted on their gold supply chains. And citizens should demand that governments sanction those who exploit the Congo, including conflict gold smugglers. Together, we can raise the voices of Congolese artists and activists that are working to make change.
Meet the Artists
Rita Zaburi (slam artist): I am a slam artist firstly for myself because I enjoy it, and secondly for the audience because I have a message to share. When I was younger, I liked poetry and expressing my thoughts through writing. Since learning about slam poetry, this same passion for words is what interested me in becoming a slam artist. Now, I am part of a group called Goma Slam Sessions, which is a collective of Goma slammers who meet weekly to share our independent pieces with each other. We also organize a Slam Night where we perform to the public at the end of each month. Before joining this slam group, I didn’t have much confidence in myself and I didn’t like public speaking. Since I am a woman, I was scared to stand up in front of an audience because in Goma and the Congo women are not considered to be capable of doing this. But, thanks to this collective I have now overcome this fear and shyness, and I understand that being a woman does not mean that I am incapable. As a female slam poet in Goma, I want to communicate to the entire world through my art. I want to share my ideas with the world so that they can listen to what I have to say.
Mugabo Baritegera (visual artist): I am a contemporary Congolese artist working in Goma in Eastern DRC. In my artwork I use different media such as photography, filmmaking, and painting because I believe that art can allow us to be free to see things from different points of view. I also believe that art can be a tool for advocacy about human rights. Through my artwork I want to communicate a positive image about life in the Congo, and I often aim to share ideas about daily life, the stories of my community, and the common humanity that we all share. By posing questions about the relationship between the colonized and the colonizers, I aim to create a space where we deconstruct colonial clichés in order to make space for creations that are free and that work toward a decolonized future. Overall, I see my art as a pedestal for decolonization that can help to build and develop our collective consciousness and understanding.
The Street Dancers: We created our dance company (The Street Dancers) in 2006, and we now have eight members: Bienfait Hangi Luanda, Meshake Rene Lusolo, Guellord Mulonda Shakangana, Olivier Bizimana Kamara, Junior Nuru Masta, Laurant Baptista Kawa, Fabrice Emmanuel Tumba, and Nicolas Yanece Mutima. Through dance, our goal is to address and confront issues that we face as youth in our country, and to work toward positive change in Congolese society. To us, being dancers is not a choice – we consider it to be our destiny. Through our body movement and choreographed dances, we are able to express ourselves and tell our stories more clearly than we can with words. Our dances respect Congolese traditions and customs, while also fighting against issues of injustice, violence, colonialism, and racism. While many people work in their offices behind closed doors, we understand that part of our work as dancers is to be visible in the community and to share our ideas and artistic creations with others. This is how we can create positive change. Overall, our dream is for there to be peace and security in Congo because we know that without peace nothing else will work. Through dance, this is what we are fighting for.