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

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.


Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

Updated 29 May 2020

Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

  • Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones
  • India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday,

NEW DELHI: Monkeys mobbed an Indian health worker and made off with coronavirus test blood samples, spreading fears that the stealing simians could spread the pandemic in the local area.
Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones.
After making off with the three samples earlier this week in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi, the monkeys scampered up nearby trees and one then tried to chew its plunder.
The sample boxes were later recovered and had not been damaged, Meerut Medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj said on Friday, after footage of the encounter went viral on social media.
“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said.
He added that the three people whose samples were stolen were retested for the virus.
Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there is no confirmation that the disease can then be passed on to humans.
India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday, with 175 new fatalities in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to official data.
India, home to some of the world’s most packed cities and a creaking health care system, is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days.
In many rural areas, farmers lose crops to monkey populations and have demanded local governments’ intervention to check their populations.
City authorities in New Delhi have famously used long-tailed langur monkeys to fight and scare away smaller primates from around the Indian Parliament.