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Local Voices Saying No to War in North Kivu
an article by Alexis Bouvy for Search for Common Ground (abridged)

Despite the fact that their friends or parents have joined local militia groups, the young people from JMTAP, the Youth Musical and Theatrical Alliance for Peace, fight daily for peace and peaceful coexistence in North Kivu. This is a brave undertaking, carried out with an extraordinary energy, in areas where there are deadly confrontations between armed groups and intercommunity tensions remain high.

JMTAP members rehearsing a choreography

click on photo to enlarge

In the rural areas of North Kivu, young people play a key role in armed conflict. Often despite themselves, many young people find themselves to be participants in the war as well as victims of it. Young people are often the first to be targeted when the time comes to recruit men for the militias. They make up a substantial number of the troops who fight – and die – on the different frontlines in North Kivu. Moreover, the majority of young civilians have friends, acquaintances or parents who join one or another of the armed groups. . .

Despite the difficult environment, some young people from different local communities decided to come together to fight for peace and peaceful coexistence. In Nyabiondo, JMTAP, the Youth Musical and Theatrical Alliance for Peace, brings together more than 60 young people, aged between 16 and 25, and full of energy and enthusiasm for the cause. These young people from Nyabiondo decided to set up JMTAP after ‘Cheka’s war’ in 2012, in which Cheka’s group (from the Nyanga community) fought the APCLS group (from the Hunde community). Achille, the young President of JMTAP, tells us “Discrimination between the Hunde and the Nyanga was very strong at that time. Each community wanted revenge on the other for all the losses that they had sustained during the fighting!”

When the JMTAP members decided to organise peace performances with their limited means, more than 50 young people came together in the main street of Nyabiondo or in neighbouring villages, reciting poems, singing songs and putting on plays with the theme of repudiating the ideology of war and ethnic division. The villagers found it hard to resist. Achille tells us “During our last performance in Bukombo, the people were very happy with our show and with the message. They were very grateful!” . . .

Achille, JMTAP’s President, Justin, his Vice- President, and Fidéline, one of the group’s advisors, tell us about the problems for young people facing the armed groups. They give us their opinions on the relationships between the local communities, but also on the relations between the countries in the region. Finally they tell us about the problems that they have experienced through running the JMTAP activities. . .

Every Thursday afternoon, after school, the JMTAP members get together at the Nyabiondo Institute to dance and prepare their songs, poems and drama sketches. Local Voices was lucky enough to attend one of these rehearsals during which the young people performed their own song with explosive lyrics about the armed conflict and the need for peace in DRC.


Question(s) related to this article:

Can you add to this analysis of the Democratic Republic of the Congo?,

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Evolution of the Peace Process in the Democratic Republic of Congo

submitted to CPNN in French by Solidarité avec les Victimes et pour la Paix and translated into English by CPNN

For the original article in French, see RDC Solidarite.

From the recent past to today

After the armed hostilities in 1996 and the fall of Mobutu in May 17, 1997, there was a period of relative calm for fourteen months. A new rebellion began on August 2, 1998. Very early, negotiations started in Lusaka (Zambia) and arrived at the first agreements of ceasefire dated from July 10, 1999. It was to oversee respect of these agreements of Lusaka that the Security Council of the United Nations set up its resolution creating the Observation Mission of the United Nations (MONUC).

It was in October 2006 that the first free elections were organized.

To establish an account of the situation is difficult, but it is easier to say that at the present time the effects of armed conflict are still sad at various levels.  There is extreme poverty in the civilian population.  Until the present a responsible solution has not been found to assure access of children to education.

Good news today is that the country now has a Constitution, a President of the Republic, a Parliament and a Senate and provincial assemblies as well as provincial governments following the democratic elections organized in 2007.  In general, the Democratic Republic of Congo is arriving slowly at peace and stability despite the constraints of reconstruction and restoration of a state of law.

Without pretending to be exhaustive, this report is a description of human rights violations on the civilian population in the city of Kinshasa.  Acts of torture continue to take place. . ...more.

This report was posted on February 14, 2014.