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Given that the Society of Jesus is taking such interest in the
struggle against AIDS in Africa
, we felt it would be interesting to publish this account of how
Kinshasa
artists mobilized to support this struggle. The exhibition-sale of
their work was held at the Centre Culturel
Boboto (CCB) from 29.11 to 8.12, 2002.
It is clear that the message of these artists, using image and
intuition, would have far more impact than learned speeches on the
majority, especially the young.


During November CCB was associated with an awareness campaign about
the dangers of AIDS amongst the city’s artists and sculptors. Mme
Martje van des
Heide
, from the NGO Coopération
Technique Allemande, initiated the campaign along with the Ministry
of Public Health and Dr Lepira, director
of its AIDS program. The campaign animators called together artists
in CCB’s auditorium for an information
conference, and again in the Institut
des Beaux Arts and several schools in the city that run Arts and
Humanities programs. After the conference, artists were asked to
render the message in artistic form. Prizes for the top three
entries were US$750, $500 and $250. It was quite a challenge for the
artists, as they only had three weeks in which to complete their
work.


Many artists came forward to register for the competition. On
deadline day for submissions the associate director of CCB, Pascal
Bashige
, was overwhelmed with entries. Each artist could submit two entries
accompanied by a description of what they represented. There were
3000 entries in all, especially in the renowned popular style of

Kinshasa paintings. But there were also a number of posters and
cartoon strips as well as some sculptures. A jury of five began by
selecting fifty of the submissions they judged most worthy as well
as likely to capture public attention. The three winners were then
selected from amongst these.


The first prize was unanimously awarded to a painting by
Désiré Monolonga.
A painting of the popular school, it represented the world as a boat
in the process of sinking. Two solid lifeboats are making their way
to safety, named Abstinence and Fidelity. Lots of other bodies are
scarcely keeping afloat with difficulty around a buoy named
«Condom». And now and then a buoy goes “pchitt”
… and takes its entourage down with it to join those already in the
abyss, where they are welcomed at death’s door by devilish imps.


The second prize went to Mme Pendeza
Belinda Katuagu. Her Impressionist-style
painting « Tukumbuke
watoto hawa »
reminiscent of Renoir depicts the heads of two children on a box, in
front of which their skeletal parents are dying. Mme
Pendeza gave her prize to an NGO that
runs as AIDS orphanage. A more abstract painting by
Nzinga Ndotoni
won third prize. Using strong light and shade, the artist warns:
Aids kills. In the shadows lie dangerous silhouettes: syringes,
razor blades etc.


A special mention went to a cartoonist who, in a few pages,
presented the tragedy of AIDS as she sees it in Kinshasa. A street
kid tells his story to his companions: how he grew up in a beautiful
house, how his mother reproached his father for his absences on long
road trips, how in a few months his father, mother and younger
brother were killed by the disease, how other family members came
and stripped the house and none of his uncles and aunts wanted to
take him in, and even accused him of black magic. Finally it was
only the street people who welcomed him.

AJANews
Statement of West Africa Provincial

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