Amid Strife, Congo’s Musicians Fight to Play

Organizers of a music festival in eastern DRC struggle to keep their dreams of performing alive.

“It’s like we live in seasons — not just the dry and wet season — but the season of insecurity; the security can change just like the seasons,” explains Wenga. “And then it traumatizes a little, and that’s why you see a lot of youth looking to change things, each of them in their own way. We live and hope that our story will change, and that’s why we’re fighting — trying through music, through songs, through exchanges, through the festival, to promote change, because we believe in it.”

The organizers of the festival insist that Amani will still happen, that they still have the support and resources to realize their vision. Whether they are right, their persistence in pursuit of creating positivity — amid the legacy of conflict and against the images of despair — is a success in itself.

Rebecca Rattner is a freelance writer and independent consultant based in East Africa whose work focuses on human rights and governance issues in the region.