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.


From Havana to the UAE: Camila Cabello’s visit gives her a ‘special feeling’

Updated 17 February 2019
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From Havana to the UAE: Camila Cabello’s visit gives her a ‘special feeling’

  • Cuban-American singing sensation Camila Cabello's visit to the UAE left her leaving humbled
  • The singer's performance in Dubai was well received and led to social media postings about how loved she felt

DUBAI: Cuban-American singing sensation Camila Cabello, who performed at the RedFest DXB 2019 music festival in Dubai over the weekend, took time out before the show to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. 

The singer of the hit song “Havana,” which she performed at the Grammys last week, posted a photo on Instagram of herself at the mosque wearing a hijab, which is provided for all female visitors. 

“I wore a hijab to be respectful when visiting this mosque, and at the store this really sweet girl helped me put it on,” Cabello wrote on her Instagram. 

“We didn’t speak the same language, but she was smiling as she helped me, and it felt like she was a close friend.” 

Her Instagram caption began: “One of my favorite people, Anthony Bourdain, once said, ‘It seems that the more places I experience, the bigger I realize the world to be’ — it’s so true, I love the feeling of being humbled by traveling to another place and experiencing a completely different culture. It makes you realize how small your world is in comparison to how big the world actually is; how you’re only living one version in a million of the human experience. But at the same time travel makes you realize we’re not really all that different.”

Cabello, previously a member of pop group Fifth Harmony, added: “I can’t really describe it, but experiences like this give me such a special feeling of being really close to and really loving people.”

She continued her ode to the UAE on Sunday, posting a photo of herself in a long, flowing dress in the desert and urging people to travel “to a place that couldn’t be more different than what you know.” 

She wrote: “Never in my life did I think I would see a place like this. Getting to see places like this just makes me more desperate to see more.”

The 21-year-old singer performed at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater on Friday, along with rapper Macklemore. 

Her one-hour set opened with the 1980s-inspired ballad “Never Be the Same,” and included other hit numbers such as “Lost Control” and “Inside Out.” She closed the set with the chart-topping track “Havana.” 

Post-concert, Cabello tweeted: “I’ve got so much love to my fans from the Middle East. I didn’t realize there were so many of you out there.”