MANCHESTER, NH – Local Congolese immigrants and other local residents gathered on Friday to celebrate a holiday and spread an important message.
As part of festivities surrounding Sunday’s Independence Day in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ceremonies were held across Manchester to honor the African country’s birth and shine a spotlight on issues impacting the country beginning by raising the flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Manchester’s city hall.
For Manchester Board of School Committee member and Congolese native Mary Ngwanda-Georges, the day provided a chance for patriotism as well as helping spread awareness about the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“For women, we did not have much freedom. There was always war and women suffered. We started this in 2009 to raise awareness about dangers for women and children in the Congo,” she said. “Now we’re taking action to break the silence and tell people enough is enough. It’s time to stop using women as weapons of war.”
Following the flag raising, the day’s festivities also included a speech from renowned pastor Francois Ekofo, who led a series of protests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year.
One of the people participating in the day’s events was Manchester resident Jordie Soage
Soage, 17, moved to the United States in 2016 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Friday marked the second time he attended the event, which was different than what he was used to back home, but served as what he saw as a necessary moment to shed light on the plight of his homeland.
“So I think it’s much bigger at home, people march and celebrate independence. Here it’s just a small gathering of Congolese people,” he said. “Congo is such a huge country and there are people who want take the country and take it down. There’s been war since the 1980s and there is corruption everywhere, I’ve been worried since I can’t even remember. Congo needs some help,” Soage said.
Below is a video of the event including the singing of the National Anthem of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “Debout Congolais.” The English translation of the anthem are posted below the video.
“Debout Congolais” (Arise Congolese)
Congolese, United by fate, United in the struggle for independence,
Let us hold up our heads, so long bowed,
And now, for good, let us keep moving boldly ahead, in peace.
Oh, ardent people, by hard work we shall build, In peace, a country more beautiful than before.
Countrymen, sing the sacred hymn of your solidarity, Proudly salute the golden emblem of your sovereignty, Congo.
Blessed gift (Congo) of our forefathers (Congo), Oh beloved (Congo) country, We shall people your soil and ensure your greatness. (30 June) Oh gentle sun (30 June) of 30 June, (Holy day) Be witness (holy day) of the immortal oath of freedom That we pass on to our children forever.