Congolese artist Emma Katya has won the Fair Play Anti Corruption Youth Voices Award with his track ‘How long’. The song talks about the current situation in the city of Goma and the hope for a better future while at the same time trying to deal with the pain from the past and the daily struggle for everybody to survive.
‘How long’ is a collaboration with promising artists from Goma: Agakan (23), Fonko Dji (16), Katya Vinywasiki Emmanuel (26), and spoken word artist from Kenya Ndungi Githuku (32). Emmanuel Katya recorded the song during the 4th Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF) in October 2009.
The prize for the Fair Play award winner consists of an invitation to perform in Brussels (Belgium) at the Beursschouwburg and the Brussels Jazz Marathon at the end of May 2010.
SKIFF, the Salaam Kivu International Film Festival, is organized in the East of Congo to have an annual event for film, music, painting and dance. The festival is organized by cultural youth organisation YOLE!AFRICA (Y!A), which runs a youth center in Goma and organizes the festival each year in October. Emma Katya is also part of YOLE!AFRICA. As an organizer, artist and teacher he works tirelessly for his community.
Y!A firmly believes art is an essential element in rebuilding the Congolese society after the many years of war that devastated the eastern part of Congo. During the festival the entire city vibrates in a different pace, everybody is excited to see the films, follow one of the many workshops and enjoy the musical concerts. Even in 2008, while Nkunda was approaching the city with his army, the festival still continued, giving people hope and confidence.
The festival also links to artists from the region, in order to stimulate a cultural exchange among artists and young people in the entire Great Lakes region. Y!A knows artists carry the consciousness of a society and can express the collective emotions. Peace in Congo can only last when the entire region lives in harmony. During the 5th edition of SKIFF in 2010 a brand new network of artists for peace called NYAVU (‘net’ in Swahili) will officially be launched.
The winning song ‘How long’ is the result of an artistic collaboration during the festival. It speaks to the youth of Congo and the entire region of the Great-Lakes. One can hear that the artists talk from their personal experiences, which makes the song very touching. At the same time a strength speaks from the song that calls to the youth from the region to not consider themselves victims but to look up towards what can be possible, in the spirit of Lumumba.
The Fair Play award is an initiative of Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) and the World Bank Institute, check the announcement here.
Emma Katya Vinywasiki Katondolo was born in Goma, East of the DR Congo, in December 1982. In 2001 he started a music group called RBM Zedin. The name Zedin comes from the French ‘C’est un’ meaning ‘it’s one’. This name was chosen to call upon people in Africa to attain unity. In short, Zedin means ‘unite’.
In 2002, after the terrible eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, lava consumed almost three quarters of his lovely town Goma. Emma and the rest of the family took refuge in Kampala, Uganda. In Kampala, Emma did not forget his music ambitions. He met with a young Ugandan artist, Imran Azad and both started a group called Zedin Kroo (from ‘crew’) and put on their first show in July of the same year at a hip hop festival organized by Alliance Française in Kampala.
In October 2005, Emma’s joint track Mother Africa won at the Pam award in the category of Best Hip-Hop single of the year.