To a dynamic gathering in a football stadium with music and comic books for all, African Artists for Development launched its new program Rap Against AIDS in the village of Kamanyola in the Democratic Republic of Congo on February 17.
The first in a series of such rallies, the meetings will target the young Congolese with messages of HIV/AIDS prevention and protection, as well as inform and encourage them to undergo testing at the free clinics located in the cities of Sud-Kivu province.
Black’s Power, a Congolese rap group, inaugurated the festivities with a performance of five songs containing messages of HIV/AIDS awareness. Perched on the back of a truck, the group did not go unnoticed as children quickly rushed to the makeshift performance deck to listen to the songs.
The stadium was soon filled with adolescents and adults alike as prospective participants flooded in to partake in a quiz hosted by Gratien Chibungiri, the coordinator of AAD partner SOS-Sida. He tested the public on methods of disease prevention, with the comic book “Les Diamants de Kamituga”, or “The Diamonds of Kamituga”, offered as a prize for each correct response. Nearly 500 copies were also handed out in the village’s many schools.
This premier gathering counted approximately 2,000 attendants, with a good number of them children and teenagers, AAD’s target audience. While more than encouraging, AAD hopes to surpass this number with the rallies to come.
Seven similar meetings will be held in multiple villages in Sud-Kivu over the next two years, as well as two big concerts. Furthermore, Black’s Power’s five songs on HIV/AIDS prevention were recorded and aired on local radio. AAD has also signed on to cover the operating costs of the free testing center in Kamanyola for the next two years.