Congolese Amani Festival for peace draws crowds

Performers play music next to a festival tent at the Amani Festival held in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. (AP)
Updated 12 February 2017
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Congolese Amani Festival for peace draws crowds

GOMA, Congo: Enrique Makasi’s hometown of Beni in eastern Congo is under frequent siege from rebels, and music is the way he tells the world what is happening.
Performing before tens of thousands at the Amani Festival in the regional capital, Goma, the 26-year-old singer hopes to give voice to the hundreds slain and build solidarity to promote peace.
“I took to the stage in black to show the world that in Beni, nearly 1,000 people have been killed by the ADF rebels from Uganda and an investigation should be carried out,” he said. “The festival is also a way for me to share the word ‘amani’ (meaning peace in the Swahili language) with colleagues coming from other countries in Africa.”
Nearly 36,000 people gathered in Goma over the weekend for the three-day festival of music and dance aimed at promoting peace and boosting the eastern Congo’s generally negative global image.
Some have come from as far away as the United States. Hamilton Collins of Cherry Hill, N.J., said he made the journey after reading about the festival online.
“I love Congo and I will be here again in 2018,” he said while dancing to the music of Burundian group Alfred & Bernard.
Eastern Congo has drawn international headlines since the 1990s for rebellions, rape and instability, and multiple armed groups remain active in the region, drawn by its vast mineral wealth.
But Goma is a relatively peaceful provincial capital, nestled at the foot of mountains and beside picturesque Lake Kivu. Close by is Virunga National Park, which features the Mt. Nyiragongo active volcano and some of the world’s last lowland gorillas.
Spreading the message that Goma can host tens of thousands of concert-goers without problems is part of the festival’s mission.
“We want to promote a positive image of eastern Congo so that foreigners know that in Goma, there is life,” said Julien Paluku Kahongya, governor of North Kivu province.


US officials seize Egyptian mummy linens coming from Canada

Updated 26 June 2019
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US officials seize Egyptian mummy linens coming from Canada

PORT HURON, Michigan, US: US border officials say they have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens during enforcement operations at the Blue Water Bridge that connects Michigan with the Canadian province of Ontario.
The US Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday officers seized a package of five jars containing the artifacts found May 25 on a Canadian mail truck. The truck had been selected for examination at a nearby station in Marysville, Michigan.
Officials say they worked with a Washington-based archaeological organization and determined the artifacts are believed to be from the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 305-30 B.C. Their removal from Egypt appears to be a violation of federal law.
Authorities say they plan to return the artifacts in the near future and are working to determine who is criminally responsible.