The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country filled with a rich culture and a lively people — but it is also filled with violence, political unrest and exploitation.
Today and Saturday the UNC Music Department and Yole!Africa US will host “Celebrating Congo: A 2-day Festival of Art and Advocacy” in hopes of raising awareness and appreciation of Congo.
“Celebrating Congo” will take place today from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.
Events include a fashion show, a musical performance, food, lectures and more. All events are free to the public.
Music professor Chérie Ndaliko is in charge of the event and is responsible for bringing together performers and other contributors.
“We decided to call it ‘Celebrating Congo’ because that’s exactly what we want to do. We want to celebrate the vibrancy of the culture, the people, the food, the fashion, the music and the film traditions,” Ndaliko said.
One of the resources available in the Congo are minerals that are often used in cell phones, computers, and the majority of other technological devices.
Ndaliko explained that by purchasing products made with these “conflict minerals,” consumers are allowing companies who exploit the Congolese for their minerals and labor to continue doing so.
“For all of us who engage in the modern world in any way, the conflict in Congo has everything to do with us,” Ndaliko said. “We want people to feel empowered to take positive action.”
Her husband, Petna Ndaliko, creator of the documentary film “Mabele na biso,” has also been an integral part of the planning process.
“It is an invitation for different conversation around international aid and an opportunity for people interested in Congo to see a different image of the Congolese,” Petna said.
Petna’s documentary will be previewed as a part of the “Celebrating Congo” festival on Friday night.
Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, professor of African and Afro-American studies, is another contributor to the event.
As a Congolese, Ntalaja said he is looking forward to calling the attention of UNC students to the Congo and the incredible amounts of violence taking place there.
“It is very important that young Americans are aware of this [the conflict] and try to find out how they can help,” he said.
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