Editor's Note: Guest contributor Mac McKinney is human rights activist, deeply concerned about the horrific outrages to human dignity taking place not only in Africa, but in such places as Syria and North Korea. He has been long-involved in the maritime world, as a Navy Diver, shipyard employee and marine designer, but enjoys writing and photo-journalism, and travelled to Haiti to write a series of articles on the situation there.
I really didn’t know much about Congo until I met a journalist who had been there and told me about the ongoing conflicts in Congo. Soon after, I began delving into Congo’s history, studying from the Kingdom of Kongo to King Leopold II, who created the modern Congolese state with the chicotte and the Force Publique, building its foundations on human exploitation.
Reflecting on Congo’s violent past and present, I knew that it was wrong for people to suffer this much, and that I needed to take action. It is time to end the violence there and lay the foundation for a better future. Fortunately, the world is starting to wake up to this imperative, which was demonstrated in the signing of the “Framework” Agreement by 11 African nations in Addis Ababa in February 2013, creating a regional blueprint to end the bloodshed and bring stability to the region.
Eight months following the signing of the Framework, The United Nations International Day of Peace, Hampton Roads organization will host “Peace for the DR Congo” at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia on September 21.
In conjunction with the One Love Festival also taking place on September 21, this year’s Hampton Roads U.N. Peace Day celebration is focusing on peace in eastern Congo as a way of doing our part to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict. Each year a theme for the day is established, and Congo was chosen this year as a result of personal reflection and education about the crisis.
The event will serve as an educational and cultural forum to discuss current events in the Congo as well as opportunities to take direct action.
Speakers and Performers include:
- Reverend Carey Chirico of the Virginia Episcopalian Diocese ministry to the Congo, Women-to-Women
- Maurice Carney, Executive Director of Friends of the Congo
- Bismarck Myrick, Ambassador-in-Residence and lecturer at Old Dominion University, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia and the Kingdom of Lesotho
- Faith Liwanga, founder of the NGO MICAH-elle Foundation, which raises money to help empower women in the Congo
- Kathy Klein, a visual artist who raises money for Congolese women through the Art for Hope Project
- Jane Lockhart, a former missionary of the Eastern Virginia Presbytery
- The Taiko Drummers of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Global Buddhist Network in Virginia Beach
- Charles Clarke, a world music instrumentalist
- Chardabat Musique, Congolese-American singer/songwriter
- Mwamini Thambwe Mwamba (Gaelle) Diggs, Congolese author of the “Untold Story of the Women and Children of the Democratic Republic of Congo”
Photo: Congolese citizens in Bunia (UN)