In the first of our series of profiles of youth projects around the world, Pierre Kashindi tells of the conditions that led to the establishment of the youth-led organisation Congo In The Picture. Congo In The Picture is a youth organisation for young people and created by young people to promote the role of young people in the Kivu region through their every day activities in the fight against conflict and promoting sustainable development.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country with an area of 2,349,890 km2 and more than 70 million inhabitants, spread amongst over 450 tribes and dialect groups. Since the country’s independence, there have been numerous ethnic wars, with these currently mostly centred in the east of the country. These wars are for the most part caused by the migrations that have happened in Eastern and Central Africa from the 1600s until today. Some tribes from the eastern part of Africa and those from the centre of the country have met in this mountainous region, causing rivalries between ethnic groups each proclaiming themselves a native of the region.
Various wars between several armed groups continue to take place, with most of the groups claiming to advocate for the interests of their regions or communities, whilst others look after their personal interests, seeking to gain a post in the government. There are more than 35 rebel groups hostile to the national government, with other groups sympathetic to the Kinshasa government, and yet more simply trying to prevent neighbours from accessing what they see as their ethnic territory. This situation is further complicated by the groups whose goal is political autonomy and those looking for control of the lucrative supply of minerals to multinational companies.
These wars have a negative impact on the development of the country. With the workforce making up 75% of the population, only 7% have a guaranteed job. Under these circumstances, many young people are forced to resort to different means, such as fraud and banditry, to escape poverty. Other young people are forced to join armed groups, whose leaders offer the young people considerable remuneration for joining.
Faced with this situation, some young people from Kivu, in the east of the country, decided to create an organization for the promotion of peace and development in this region. The result of this was the creation of the organisation Congo In The Picture.
Congo In The Picture is a youth organisation for young people and created by young people to promote the role of young people in the Kivu region through their every day activities in the fight against conflict and promoting sustainable development. Congo In The Picture wants to be the voice of the youth of Kivu, who suffer from the incessant wars in the region, by transforming the culture of war to that of peace and sustainable development.
Congo In The Picture is currently working on two projects:
Uswazi Project, which means “Neighbourhood Project” and promotes young people in music, film and design. Congo In The Picture is working in partnership with various organisations, including Bollo Brook Youth Centre in London, with whom various joint music production activities have taken place, with the aim of engaging young people from both organisations in efforts to mutually strengthen their work.
ICT4Peace in Kivu aims to use of new information and communication technologies in providing information about what is happening in inaccessible areas and where there are armed groups. The project also aims to train young in the use of these technologies to fight against poverty.
Congo In The Picture is made up of more than 35 young people, aged 14 to 27, who work for the development of the organisation. Most are located in the city of Goma (North Kivu region), Uvira (South Kivu region) and over the border in Burundi and Rwanda. The organization organizes conferences and seminars to educate young people on development issues and practices for conflict resolution in the region.
Congo In The Picture is currently considering the proposed development of a recreation centre and a meeting place for young people from Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania in Uvira. The centre would consist of a sports club and a conference room. This project is seeking funding.
Featured Image Credit: The World By Road