May 28, 2015


Local

Art inspires discussion of Congo issues

Dubbed worst place for women

The Graffiti Gallery on Higgins Avenue was surrounded by police Wednesday night -- not because a crime had been committed but because of high-profile visitors.

Former governor general Micha´lle Jean was there to see the exhibit, Peace Should Not Be This Fragile.

Michaelle Jean and Dr. Denis Mukwege chat while attending the opening of the exhibit, Peace Should Not Be This Fragile, at the Graffiti Gallery Wednesday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Michaelle Jean and Dr. Denis Mukwege chat while attending the opening of the exhibit, Peace Should Not Be This Fragile, at the Graffiti Gallery Wednesday. Photo Store

Guests line the ramparts at the Grafitti Gallery Wednesday evening.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Guests line the ramparts at the Grafitti Gallery Wednesday evening. Photo Store

The show's opening is part of a week of events to raise funds and awareness for Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo, that treats women who've been the victims of extreme sexual violence.

The hospital's founder, Dr. Denis Mukwege, is visiting Winnipeg for the first time and travels with security since receiving death threats and surviving a 2012 assassination attempt.

In the exhibit, young artists -- including R.B. Russell and Churchill high school students -- explore their similarities and the resilience of people in the Republic of Congo, dubbed the worst place in the world to be a woman.

An estimated 5.4 million people have died in two decades of war in Congo. The mineral-rich area has been ravaged by many armed groups, some of them with backing from neighbouring countries.

Nearly two million women in Congo have been raped, the American Journal of Public Health reported. There's an overwhelming need for intervention, protection, rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

The foundation that supports Panzi Hospital has organized art shows and programs in the U.S., and now Canada, involving students to inspire a discussion of the issues facing Congolese people.

Twenty-year-old Winnipeg artist Nelson Mutima's watercolour piece in the exhibit explores why women are victimized and how so much blood has been shed to tap into Congo's abundant natural resources. It's something close to the third-generation refugee's heart.

"I was traumatized by the war. I couldn't talk, I had to communicate by drawing."

His mother, Henriette Mukesa, was a nurse at the general hospital in Bukavu, where Panzi Hospital for women opened in 1999.

"I know about the problems," said the single mom. The exhibit at Graffiti Gallery is on display until April 18.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 A6

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Scroll down to load more

Top