Internews has produced two videos to raise awareness of the plight of Congolese children accused of witchcraft. The videos were part of a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development that trained journalists from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to report on peace talks (The Inter-Congolese Dialogue) and social issues. Angela Nicoara and Mike Ormsby filming
There are an estimated 20,000 street children in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. Many were forced from their homes by parents accusing them of sorcery, usually because of a family misfortune such as unemployment, an accident or death. Many such children are beaten and tortured during violent “exorcisms.” Local sources suggest some have been killed. Legal redress is infrequent.
A widespread belief in witchcraft, the harsh economic conditions and strong evangelical influences in DRC all combine to create a social climate where children accused of demonic possession are often swiftly disowned, meaning one less mouth to feed at home.
The first video, “Enfant Dit Sorcier” (“Child Accused of Being a Witch”) is a documentary featuring interviews with children accused of witchcraft, an evangelical pastor who accuses them, adult ex-street children and other relevant sources. It was presented at a Kinshasa workshop for 150 local media professionals, to encourage them to address the problem objectively.
The second video, co-funded by Search for Common Ground, uses pop music to spread a similar message to Congolese society. It features the musicians of L’Orchestre Lachytoura, most of whom were once street children, some accused of sorcery. They perform their own song “Enfant Dit Sorcier.” Internews created and inserted a narrative drama to help illustrate the story of an innocent boy accused and discarded by his family. The song is in Lingala. Subtitled versions are available in French and Swahili. The music video has been shown on television in Kinshasa and Kisangani.
The videos were filmed, directed and produced by Angela Nicoara, Internews Rwanda Country Director, and Mike Ormsby, Internews DRC Project Director.
More Photos: Some are the band during the filming process. Some are with street kids playing football in the rain. (Photographer: Kim Sarrazin Gjerstad).