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Dance battles in Eastern Congo

Salym Fayad | Democratic Republic of Congo

Crowds of youngsters gather at Yole Africa headquarters to see the dance battles. Some climb walls and rooftops for better views and cheer for their favorite crews while a jury awards points to each crew according to their performance.

For the youth of Goma, the capital of North Kivu in Eastern DR Congo, dance has become a form of resistance against violence and a tool for peace-building. For over two decades Eastern Congo has been immersed in the world’s deadliest conflict. More than thirty armed groups operate in the mineral-rich region, millions of people have been killed and displaced. For nine years the local organization Yole Africa has hosted the Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF), which has been key in developing the arts among the youth of Eastern Congo. The festival has a film program and offers workshops on filmmaking, photography and human rights, among other cultural and social issues. However, its yearly highlight is the dance competition, which gathers thousands of youngsters and dozens of local dance crews, turning Goma into a regional cultural capital.

Email: salymfayad@yahoo.com

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