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Using Art to Halt the Spread of Coronavirus in DRC

  • "Stop Coronavirus" by Rodrique Muladika, who won a Carter Center-sponsored Youth Democracy artistic competition in Kinshasa in 2016. The text in this image says, "My Congolese brothers, respect the sanitation measures to overcome the coronavirus."

  • “Wash your hands to fight COVID-19" by John Mbuyi, who won the Youth Democracy competition in Kinshasa in 2019. The text reads, "Protect us against COVID-19: Let's wash our hands with soap and water."

  • "Barrier Gesture #1" by Luc Mayemba, who participated in the Youth Democracy competition in Kinshasa in 2016. Luc created scenes for a mural he hopes to paint. This is the first of three images. The text reads, "Disinfect hands."

  • "Barrier Gesture #2" by Luc Mayemba. The text reads, "Bring a protective mask."

  • "Barrier gesture #3" by Luc Mayemba. The text says, "In the absence of a handkerchief, cough and sneeze in the crook of your elbow."

  • "Manu Dibango." A group of young artists in Kinshasa worked together to paint a mural of Manu Dibango, a famous Cameroonian musician who died from COVID-19.

  • “Manu Dibango." The finished mural also includes a young person wearing a mask and washing his hands. The young artists' intent is to show that COVID-19 can affect anyone and that everyone needs to take precautions.

  • "Untitled" by Thierry Coco. The artist (seen here wearing his mask) painted his understanding of the current situation.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, young artists with ties to The Carter Center are giving their time and talent to create paintings and songs that encourage people in their communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In his song "Tomibatela na COVID19," which translates as "Let's Stay Away from the COVID19," singer Giscard Lowa tells his listeners:

Let's stay at home/ Let's be vigilant/ Against this disease which does not distinguish
between the poor and the rich. 

Let's wash our hands with soap and water/ Regularly/ Let's respect the distance of one meter/ This can save my life and yours.../ From this coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, Lowa, who goes by the stage name Maestro Blackson Kryptonite, won best song in the Carter Center-sponsored Youth Democracy art contest for a song called "Bomoko," which means "United." That contest is part of a program piloted in 2016, which provides young people ages 15-30 with artistic training as well as classes in human rights, civic participation, and leadership. The annual contest offers prizes for using drawing, singing, writing, and theater as tools to advocate for nonviolent democratic participation.

Lowa's song about COVID-19 was recently spotlighted on Radio Okapi, the U.N. radio station that airs throughout the DRC, and the artist himself got to introduce it. He's entered the song's video into a national contest for young people sponsored by the World Health Organization, among other groups.

Other artists, including two of the winners of past Youth Democracy art competitions, created paintings and drawings with familiar but important messages: Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm.

They are sharing them on their social media platforms and wherever else they can – including, in at least one case, as a neighborhood mural.

"In some areas of Kinshasa and DRC, people don’t believe COVID-19 is a real disease," said Elysée Sindayigaya, manager of the Carter Center’s Human Rights House in the DRC, which provides support to partner Youth Houses where training and art projects take place. "For many of them, it is a Western issue. Having these talented young artists raising awareness in their community can help change opinions and encourage people to adopt good behavior to prevent it."

Related Resources

Learn more about the Center's work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo »

Listen: Acoustic version of "Tomibatela na COVID19" by Giscard Lowa (.mp3) »

Download: Lyrics for "Tomibatela na COVID19" by Giscard Lowa (PDF) »

Listen below: "Bomoko" by Giscard Lowa

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