Culture in the school environment
– “You come from Congo and you from Ivory Coast…?
…and you’ve had never met before….?
And voila, the shortest way between Brazzaville and Abidjian passes through Torino, Parigi or Limoges…
“If we (from South Africa) have problems, it is because of apartheid… but you, independent since 1960, what’s wrong with you? What undermines your development?”
These two phrases – pronounced at the time when Masengo ma Mbongolo’s participated to the African Festival in Italy (1987) and Switzerland (1988) – represented amoment of depp thinking.
The first phrase – repeatedly pronounced by Italians – and the other one – isolately said by a South African artist – were the drop making the vase overflowing and causing this kaleidoscope named MALAKI MA KONGO to be born.
1990, the theatre group named Kongo Dia Ntotela was created, a group claiming the original sources, because – in Masengo’s opinion – Africa’s misfortune is due to the fact that Africa got far away from its origins. That’s why the youth’s world was chosen as an elected place.
The first act was that of accepting the challenge launche by the two above phrases through a theatre piece entitled: Brazza Kinshasa Via Paris, a Masengo ma Mbongolo’s and Nzey van Musala’s – from Congo Kinshasa – co-writing.
This piece was executed by the Pool Malebo Kongo Dia Ntotela group from Brazzaville.
Finally LUMUMBA and Franklin BUKAKA’s prophecy had come true: the Congo river ceased to be a fronteer for remetamorphosize itself into a boulevard uniting the two Congoes.
The piece was executed in many schools of the two world’s closest capital cities: Brazzaville and Kinshasa. The success met by these initiatives continued into a bigger initiative that wanted to approach not only the Congoes’ capitals’ youth only anymore, but also the artists of the whole Central Africa.
It happened that way that Nzey’s and Masengo’s folly – supported by the Kinshasa’s German cooperation – willing to organize in plain Congo river, on the Mbamou island’s Festival – an island sited between Brazzaville and Kinshasa – got unfortunately reduced – because of Brazzaville’s patrons’ will – to an international school theatre festival, following the circumstancial partner ACDL’s (Cultural Alliance for School Institution’s theatre) will.
This hybrid festival became however an high meeting place for the schools youth from central Africa. Young school theatre’s talents from Gabon, Cameroon, Rep. Central Africa, Congo Kinshasa and Congo Brazzaville became beautifully alive.
As in all cases like this one, this aborted festival didn’t know but three editions. Once more, in a teared up by war-country, war had the best on artists’ passions.
In 1997, all Masengo’s savoir faire was needed to get another school festival rise up from FITES’ ashes, a festival that could – this time – be free from all colonial, economical, artistic and especially thematic entanglements. A true Scholastic Malaki ma Kongo called Grand Prize of School Theatre.
The Malaki School was held by the LAAC. Malaki ma Kongo cultural centre was opened.
Such centre promoted cultural activities (festival, dance, theatre, story telling, exhibitions, poetry…) and had as its own basis for the sale of local food products.
The centre promoted, inside the numerous school buildings, the following 6 theatre pieces:
- Herb bass or the handicapped person’s condition
- Martin Luther King’s dream
- Call from Ténéré
- The Matsuanist Will
- Brazza Kinshasa via Paris
- The Pharaons’ Gospel
- Ignorance trap
To fulfill our needs, we set up – in collaboration with LAAC Amilcar Cabral Agricoltural High School ‘s comedy students – the following activities:
- Restaurant – African cuisine among LAAC’s orchards
- African culture’s ateliers
- Agricultural works (kitchen gardens and exchange with Amilcar Cabral Agricultural High School’ s
- DIDACTICIEL Informatics Education Center
- Biblioteque special Kongo’s culture
During Malaki’s festivities in Nove di Bassano (VI), schools were once again solicited and the students participating to this cultural exchange look today at Africa from a different angle.
We also worked several times with primary schools (teaching dances, theatre and drums to kids) and held conferences at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and the University of Padua.