Posted by alkebu

By Katherine Sullivan for The EastAfrican

Dusty, chaotic, and littered with volcanic rubble, the eastern Congolese city of Goma has seen its fair share of pain and suffering over the years.

Ravaged by rebel occupations, volcanic eruptions, and a vacuum of democratic authority that is usually filled by the greedy and the formidable, one need not look far to see the problems.

But not only has Goma survived these hardships, in some ways, it has thrived. In the midst of it all, Goma residents turn to art as a form of both protest and escape.

Early this month, the city celebrated the nineth annual Salaam Kivu Film Festival, or SKIFF, hosted by Yole! Africa.

On opening night, nearly 300 of Goma’s fashionable crowded into the ballroom of the upscale Cap Kivu Hotel to kick off a weeklong celebration of art, freedom expression, and creativity.

Martin Kobler, head of Monusco, spoke at the opening, championing the creative energy of the youth of Goma, and encouraging them to channel their efforts towards peace. “It is the youth who will rebuild this country,” he said to wide applause.

The schedule at SKIFF included not only films, but fashion shows, musical performances, and, perhaps the highlights of the week, a 68-team dance competition.

Yole! Africa, who has hosted SKIFF without fail for the past nine years, through rebel occupations and the threat there of, is an arts and cultural centre where the youth can come to exchange, learn, and express themselves.

When Yole first opened in Goma after the eruption of Nyiragongo in 2002, it was virtually the only artistic outlet in the city… read more