African artists show support for east Congo conflict at music festival

By Crispin Kyalangalilwa

BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Artists from across Africa performed at the “Amani” festival in eastern Democratic Republic to show support for victims of conflict despite growing insecurity in the area.

The audience clapped, cheered and sang along to more than 20 acts including Senegalese rap star Didier Awadi.

“Our mission is to be there with you,” he told a jubilant crowd in the city of Bukavu during the event.

“We have a duty to show solidarity, to be there on the side of the attacked people,” Awadi told Reuters after the show.

The Amani festival, which means “peace” in Swahili, usually takes place in Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

But it was moved for the first time since its launch in 2014 due to an M23 rebel offensive that drew close to the city last week.

Bukavu is the capital of South Kivu province, deemed relatively safer despite the presence of several armed groups.

More than 30,000 people attended the festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday.

Several artists from Bukavu took part. Singer Reine Saidhate performed a Mutuashi dance, also known as the dance of freedom.

“As musicians, we don’t have the tools to help these mothers who are suffering from the war. But we pass on our message through our songs,” she said.

(Reporting by Crispin Kyalangalilwa; Writing by Sonia Rolley; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Alison Williams)