In this city of nearly one million inhabitants, young artists launched an original initiative on May 25, 2022 entitled in Kiswahili “Vijana Pamoja Jenga Inchi” (Vipaji) which means “Young people, together let’s build our country”.
“I am young non-violent”, “Let’s live in unity” or even “Let’s protect the environment”; these are the messages that can be read on various frescoes of the main arteries of the city of Goma.
An initiative of the Kivu Arts Academy
Vipaji is an initiative of the Kivu Arts Academy (AKA) which is an artistic and entrepreneurial cultural research center based in Goma. AKA welcomes young people from Bukavu in the province of South Kivu and even some young Rwandans from the neighboring town of Gisenyi on the other side of the border who want to learn the visual arts. This project’s mission is to preach peace, non-violence, civic education and environmental education to young people.
Thierry Vahwere Croki, 37, is one of the initiators of this great artistic project. He has been a visual artist for over 17 years now. He describes his style as being “realistic and spontaneous” characterized by the use of bright colors or by an assembly of different electronic devices to describe everyday life.
He explained to UN News that he is happy to work alongside young workers every day. For him, if a young person works, he will have neither the time to beg nor the time to take up arms.
For Thierry Croki, the Vipaji project has two components. The first part concerns the mural frescoes in the style of graffiti while the other part concerns the preparation of a big show “Vijana Pamoja” (the young ensembles) bringing together several talents. According to him, this project comes at the right time.
“As we have experienced wars and the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, and with elections approaching, it is time for us to sensitize young people on peacebuilding, civic education and good governance. Everyone must contribute their stone to build peace. Peace concerns everyone. We must come together to seek that peace which has long been forgotten in our region and in our country,” he explains.
UN News/Esther N’sapu
Thierry Croki, painter in front of a fresco of the Vipaji project “Young people, together let’s build our country”, in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tensions between the DRC and Rwanda
Indeed, this Vipaji project, which mainly targets young people, falls at a time when the tension between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda is intensifying.
” We are young. We are part of the solution. The Congo is our common heritage. We are strong together. Nothing without us” are the messages conveyed by these young artists from the Kivu Arts Academy who aspire to peace and a better future through art.
A total of five high-traffic sites in different areas of the city were painted by young artists from Goma. These are the Ulpgl, Katoyi, sports circle, Cafod office and the AKA Nyiragongo office.
For this young artist, “the message “I am young and non-violent” has its place in the Katoyi district because this district of the municipality of Karisimbi is renowned as a hot corner of the city.
“When there are demonstrations, young people burn tires on the road and altercations between young people and police are often reported. This is the reason for this fresco which calls on young people to behave non-violently, ”he says. “The culture of non-violence must remain a lifelong commitment for today’s youth to build a better country. We intend to bring young people to have a spirit of acceptance of others attached to living together. We are all different but we are the same”.
Environmental protection is also part of the Vipaji project. For this artist, this theme must also appeal to young people. The fresco “It’s time to change the world” on the Ulpgl axis is explained by the fact that it is time to have responsible and ecological actions. An artist has the duty to sensitize the communities on the importance of planting trees but also on the consequences of throwing plastic waste in the streets and in Lake Kivu which borders the city of Goma.
UN News/Esther N’sapu
Two young artists painting a wall located in the Katoyi district of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A show about peace
It was this Sunday, June 19, 2022, that the second edition of the show called “Vijana Pamoja” took place in the Katoyi district of Goma. This purely cultural event organized by the Kivu Arts Academy is supported by CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and brought together around 3,000 people. During this multidisciplinary show, music, slam, dance, theater and skating were on the agenda to raise awareness among communities to banish hate speech and instead promote living together.
A report by Esther N’sapu, UN News correspondent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo