Berth Kaniki, director of Counterpart’s Congo Demokrasia local civil society partner Actions pour le Développement Intégral Durable (ADID), recently welcomed USAID representatives to visit her program in Mbuji Mayi, DRC. Upon greeting the delegation, Ms. Kaniki gestured toward a group of women gathered in the courtyard.
“Do you see the maman there?” Ms. Kaniki asked, referring to the group of women with the traditional language of endearment.
“When we taught these maman about democracy and elections, one of the women created songs with our messages. She carefully listened to the presenters, then turned the message into music,” Ms. Kaniki explained.
“When I heard her song inviting women to register to vote, I was fascinated.”
Ms. Kaniki pointed to the talented woman, Mama Monique Emerance. Mama Emerance is one of almost 300 women who come weekly to one of ADID’s five literacy centers throughout Kasai Oriental Province in south central DRC.
Ms. Kaniki invited Mama Emerance to meet the USAID representatives. Mama Emerance delighted and captivated her audience by singing her original song, “Mwuena Mwabu (Child of the Nation).”
Lyrics to Mama Emerance’s song, “Child of the Nation”
Mwena mwabu (3x)
Indimumanya bu muntu bwanyi,
Ndi mu manya, manema anyi,
Ndiya kadibadisha bua mpeta kalata,
Ndinya kadibadisha bua ku sungula.
Udi mumanya bu muntu bwebe,
Udi mu manya, manema ebe,
Idiya kadibadisha bua upeta kalata
Idiya kadibadisha bua ku sungula
Kalata, kimpa wee, aaaa luayi ba mamu
Kalata, kimpa wee, aaaa luayi ba tatu
Kalata, kimpa wee, aaaa luayi ba nsonga
Nukadibadishe nu peta twalata
Buakupatuka musoko anu wewa ni kalata
Makuta eba ku banque, anu wewa ni kalata
Nansha ku saficom, anu wewa ni kalata
Uya ku soficom, anu wewa ni kalata
Nasha ku salidaire anu wewa ni kalata
Wewa mwina usama, anu wewa ni kalata
Uya ku hospital, anu wewa ni kalata
Eeee bua bu muntu bwebe.
Child of the Nation
Child of the Nation (3x)
I know my citizenship,
I know I have the right to vote,
I will go to register to have my voter card,
I will go to register to vote.
You know your citizenship,
You know you have the right to vote,
Go to register to have your voter card,
Go to register to vote.
The card is good for you. Hey, come on moms
The card is good for you. Hey, come on dads
The card is good for you. Hey, come on young-uns
Go get information to get your card.
To leave your home, you need the card
To withdraw money from banks, you need the card
Even to transfer money at Soficom, you need the card
To withdraw money at Soficom, you need the card
Even to go to Solidaire, you need the card
When you get sick, you need the card
To go to the hospital, you need the card
Eeee, the card the proof of your citizenship.
Impressed with this a capella performance, USAID Representative Alpha Luyoyo encouraged the Counterpart Congo Demokrasia team to record and share Mama Emerance’s song so that it could reach thousands more citizens throughout the DRC’s current electoral process. Following Ms. Luyoyo’s suggestion, Congo Demokrasia is working to put on a stage show where a chorus will sing “Child of the Nation.” Just as Mama Emerance’s song helps inform listeners about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy, teaching more Congolese to sing the song will amplify citizen voices.
The song illustrates how the ADID staff share positive messages about civic engagement and democracy as they help the maman improve their reading, writing, and comprehension. Once the women reach a sufficient level of literacy, they are trained in small business activities including sewing and soap-making.
“This is our way of contributing to the empowerment of these women,” said Ms. Kanika.
ADID has brought this critical free education to over 86,000 DRC citizens since May 2016.
Following the tour of ADID’s office, the USAID representatives sat down to lunch at the next-door restaurant founded and run by ADID women. Over a meal of rice and fresh fish a la congolaise, the visitors tasted why the restaurant is ADID’s most successful income generating activity.
Counterpart International’s Congo Demokrasia program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is supported by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the generosity of the American people.