More than 36,000 people gathered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern city of Goma for the Amani Festival, an annual celebration of music and dance. Named after the Swahili word for peace, the three-day festival featured musicians and dancers from the region and beyond, including Tanzanian pop star Diamond Platnumz and Senegalese soul and gospel singer Faada Freddy. Festivalgoers could indulge in dishes typical of the local cuisine and cultural experiences like the Rwandan dance Intore.
The aim of the annual event is to promote peace in the region and offer an escape for those weighed down by the ongoing violence in the DRC’s eastern provinces, which has killed hundreds of civilians as armed rebel groups clash with government forces. Though the event went off without any incident, participants who spoke with BBC and other foreign press acknowledged that the instability was on everyone’s mind despite the generally positive atmosphere.
Why It Matters?
Events like the Amani Festival push back against perceptions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern territories as a completely lawless warzone, and are a reminder that the conflict is not a small regional issue but impacts hundreds of thousands. Celebrations like these also elevate local art forms and serve as venues for intercultural solidarity, especially with artists hailing from neighboring Rwanda, whose military has been embroiled in the ongoing violence in the province of North Kivu, with Goma as its capital.