'War and Conflict often acquire an outspoken urban translation. Whether being the scene of armed struggle, or the focal point of a humanitarian operation, the city compels ordinary people to cope with the spatial dimensions of violent social change.' Thus the brochure of a series of lectures at the University of Ghent. A team of international specialists will discuss these contemporary aspects of urban violence. I've been invited to talk about my experiences in Bukavu, Eastern-Congo, for my book on urbanisation in Africa
. With anthropologist Filip De Boeck
I'll discuss how life has changed in Congo’s cities during this country’s long civil war.
May 19, 19:00, Filmzaal Plateau, Paddenhoek 5, Ghent (English spoken)
Click for the entire Cities at War program
If I were a film maker, I would want to have made a documentary like this. In 1993 a Congolese jobless pilot started the only symphony orchestra of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thus Orffs Carmina Burana sounds in a popular quarter of the capital of Kinshasa. The voilinist sells bread on the streets, the horn player is a tv presentator and the tenor is a hair dresser who gives away arias while he is shaving his costumers.
Watch the preview of the German-French production Kinshasa Symphony.
My Congolese friend and colleague Chouchou Namegabe
recently received a Vital Voices
Award in Washington D.C.. Vital Voices
is an international network of women that started in the US. It supports women world wide in their struggle for justice and equality,whether they are combating human trafficking in Ukraine or building women's entrepreneurship in Vietnam. The annual Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards honor courageous international women leaders who have expanded democracy and promoted human rights. Chouchou was awarded for her never fading attention for women's issues in Eastern Congo, in her work as a radio presenter and as a founder of AFEM
, an organisation for female journalists. Her award was presented by Hollywood moviestar Ben Affleck
, who pleaded for more male voices in the discussion on gender based violence: 'As long as violence against women remains strictly a women's issue, it will always be an issue. We men must own this and we must recognise that it is vital to our own survival and we must help our brothers see it as such.'