Amani Itakuya, the second: Why an essay series on peace in the Great Lakes?

Amani Itakuya, the second: Why an essay series on peace in the Great Lakes?

Christoph Vogel and Sekombi Katondolo

One and a half years ago, the first Amani Itakuya series featured twenty-five diverse essays around topics as widely spread as disarmament, security sector reform, analyses of particular local conflicts and militias, justice, diplomacy, reconciliation, post-colonial thinking, mining, and many others. The series was highly acclaimed within journalistic and academic circles focussing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its neighbouring countries, a few essays even got taken up by renowned institutions such as the Open Society Initiative or the Rift Valley Institute.

The unexpected success of this ‘no-budget’ first edition on Christoph’s website inspired us to extend the initial idea of Amani Itakuya and to go further: why should a project that aims at stimulating debate in and around the DRC be led by a foreign researcher only? As we were sitting together in Goma last year, we began discussing how to cooperate with Radio Mutaani, a local radio station and media training centre. Numerous Kivutien journalists, including several authors of the first and second Amani Itakuya essay series, have gone through the school of Mutaani, which become famous for its in-depth and grounded ‘grands dossiers’, a programme that unveils the underlying issues of and the local discourse on current political, social, and economic affairs in eastern DRC.

In partnership with Mutaani, we wanted to increase the impact of the series by implanting it more credibly and firmly into the Congolese landscape of opinion, analysis, and discourse. But we also thought about how to amend the project and grow from an online-only, blog-hosted series into a larger project – without wanting to push beyond our reach either. We identified two key aims to do so: translating the texts into English and French respectively, and organising a conference where all authors could come together for training and exchange. As we begin the publication of the second edition, not all the translations are ready and the conference has not yet taken place (it is scheduled for July/August) but thanks to the support we could secure from MONUSCO’s civil affairs section, we are on our way to make it happen. MONUSCO turned out to be a serious and sensitive partner in our attempts to lift this essay series to another level – editorial influence did not occur at any time.

The second Amani Itakuya essay series will again feature twenty-five articles on a variety of cutting-edge issues that keep local and international analysts, researchers, journalists, activists, and professionals busy. This time, the ratio of Congolese authors is even slightly higher than in the first edition (56%), many of them also being female authors. We are glad and continuously encourage this trend – such as Mutaani has been doing for many years. Again, we are proud to introduce a series that will particularly impress through its topical richness – the contributions range from human rights to arts, from local conflict to economic development, from the army to militias, from dialogue to narrative, from urbanity to displacement, from mining to security.

We send a heartfelt thanks to all the 25 authors for their inspiring contributions, which will subsequently be published in the coming weeks. Enjoy reading, reflecting, and commenting!

Christoph is the founder of Amani Itakuya and Sekombi is the founder of Radio Mutaani.

One Response to “Amani Itakuya, the second: Why an essay series on peace in the Great Lakes?”
  1. SOD says:

    I can’t wait to read the new essays.
    The first edition has been highly informative and inspiring.
    Great to see the initiative transcending internet.
    Best wishes!

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