In Goma, a city of a million people, Mapendo Sumuni has opened the city’s first art gallery. For the past two decades Goma has been known for violence; the Rwandan Genocide, The First Congo War, The Second Congo War, the M23 Rebellion and many other acts of violence and oppression have threatened to destroy the community. Instead the city has grown from 170,000 at the beginning of the Rwandan conflict to an estimated one million, many of them refugees. And now, artists are changing the culture of the region. One of those artists, Mapendo Sumuni, is determined to create beauty that overcomes the conflict. Her newly opened art gallery, Kivu Nuru, features works from a variety of Congolese artists.
Sumuni and her gallery were recently featured in DW and Think Africa Press, a pair of international news outlets. The full stories are worth reading; this is a woman whose determination to create beauty and peace is inspirational. Just to give you a sense of her character, here are some of her responses to the challenge of being an artist in a city constantly under threat of violence:
“We cannot take this as a reason to not continue to live, to produce or to create. If we are not doing it now, when are we going to do it – in 10 years or 20 years?”
“When I think of art I see beauty, a beauty inside in all of us that wants to see the light of day. War is just another chapter in our lives. I am not going to let it define who I am.”
Nice work Mapendo. I wish you great success with your gallery.
Even better, support Kivu Nuru on their IndieGoGo campaign. Scroll down to the “What We Need” section and you’ll see how little it takes to transform lives.