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UMOJA Peace Festival to be held in DR Congo.

"UMOJA Festival," a peace festival to end conflict between the Pygmies and Bantus will be held from July 26 to 28 near Bukavu, a city in the eastern part of Congo. UMOJA means "we are the one," in the Swahili language.

The Pygmy clan is one of Africa's oldest indigenous people, commonly referred to the hunter-gatherer peoples in the Congo Basin and other parts of Central Africa. The lives of the pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become marginalized, as conflict with the land-owning Bantu began in the early 1990s mainly over territory.

With revenge bringing revenge, the two peoples have started to kill each other.

"When asked, the Pygmies say they kill Bantus because they fear they would be killed if they don't kill first," said Choi Chris Koan, a Presbyterian minister working for the Congo's Pygmy people.

Choi, who has served his ministry based in San Francisco for the Pygmies and Congo since 2010, is also part of the Hands for the Little (HfL), which is a non-governmental organization based in Jeonju, South Korea.

The organization launched the UMOJA Project in February last year, a school and church building project that will run through Aug. 31 this year.

By building schools and churches in the community, the project aims to bring the Pygmies and Bantus together.

"As the two Koreas are divided, there is division among clans there," Choi said.

"If they grow up together at the school as fellow students and go to church together, they will be able to understand each other," Choi said.

HfL has been working on this project in partnership with a non-governmental organization, World Wide Initiative and Development (WWID).

For two cities Fizi and Kalemie, schools and churches are being built thanks to support from Korean churches and other donators. But the project still needs more support for another city named Mukinja.

"Schools are being built 2 to 3 kilometers away from where Pygmies live and little children can come easily," Choi said. "The school will also serve as business facilities for the pygmy communities." He added that more people are needed to support the empowerment work for pygmies.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Geographic Code:6ZAIR
Date:Feb 5, 2018
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