Merriam-Webster defines the butterfly effect as: “A property of chaotic systems (such as the atmosphere) by which small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system.”
I am consistently reminded of the powerful effect of collaborative art to inspire, transform, and effect change in unpredictable and unexpected ways.
We haven’t been sharing developments regularly, but since the close of the Courage in Congo project in 2016, the strong, motivated and energetic group of adolescent girls we worked with have been very busily engaged in learning, community-building, and creativity.
Here’s a brief snapshot of what’s been happening on the ground on the creative front since the 35 graduated from the Courage in Congo Project, and the community gathered to celebrate the creation of positive imagery on women and girls…
A creative movement for women and girls in Goma: M’Shujarts! Movement
Definition: The ‘M” stands for ‘mwanamke’ (women), ‘mwanume’ (men), and also ‘movement’ – indicating that this is a movement for women, but that men are also implicated. ‘Shujarts’ is a combination of ‘shujaa’ meaning ‘leader’ (as the Courage in Congo participants often called themselves and/or their group) and the ‘arts.’
The M’Shujarts! Movement was established by the girls themselves, and three of the project assistants, Wisline, Pamela, and Feza, with the encouragement of our local partners CAMME, Yolé!Africa and the local arts organization UJADP. This initiative is an opportunity for the young women to develop their artistic skills, engage in artistic events in the Goma community, and to work together to develop female artistic leadership in Goma.
Three project assistants of Courage in Congo recognized the need to train more female artists within the context of Goma. In fact, over the past 10 years in Goma, only two females have received formal training at the local arts training center. As a result, Wisline, one of the artist assistants of the Courage in Congo project (who is also one of these two trained females in Goma) leads young women in an arts training program twice a month hosted at the center of our local partner CAMME. The initiative is conceived as a movement, open to any young females, and to collaboration with local organizations promoting arts and culture. Between 15-30 of the participants of Courage in Congo, and a few other new young women attend the classes. The group has thus far participated in several artistic public events in Goma.
Today M’Shujarts! is the largest group of young women visual artists in Goma and perhaps even in the larger region of Eastern Congo. It attests to the motivation of the girls to continue to develop their arts skills, their commitment to each other, and their energy and determination to add their voices in the creative spaces normally reserved for boys and men.
The magic and the joy of art is that it can shift and change people’s lives in unexpected ways. I am hopeful to see the ways that this group grows, develops and continues to engage with their communities.
Check out their FB page: here