A refugee from the war-torn and impoverished Democratic Republic of the Congo will share his people’s tragic story with the Cortland community later this month during a campus screening of a unique theatrical production he helped create with fellow refugees.
“Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo,” will be screened at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 in Sperry Center, Room 105. Cyprien Mihigo, a leader in the Central New York Congolese refugee community and an actor and writer of the reality-based play, will answer questions at the screening.
In the play, which debuted last year at Syracuse Stage in Syracuse, N.Y., Mihigo and four other refugees recount their first-hand experiences of survival in the beleaguered nation, which continues to be wracked by violence despite the signing of a 2003 peace accord to end a devastating civil war.
The screening will be the first of two SUNY Cortland campus events aimed at raising awareness of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Congo. A teach-in about the Congo, a Central African country roughly the size of Western Europe that neighboring nations continue to use as a battlefield, will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 4, in Sperry Center, Room 105.
Fueling the conflict in Congo is the country’s vast mineral wealth; especially coltan, a mineral critical to the manufacture of cell phones, laptop computers and other electronic devices. Although the country has more abundant natural resources than almost any nation in the world, its population remains among the poorest, largely as a consequence of the violence, which has killed an estimated 6 million people over the last two decades.
“The play is powerful and wrenching,” said Lorraine Berry, project director for NeoVox, the student-created, online international magazine. “We believe one of our missions is to bring attention to issues outside of students’ ordinary academic lives. We believe that a chance to see art that is this provocative and moving will widen their perspective about a country many have never heard of, which is part of a continent that many do not know much about.”
The two SUNY Cortland events are sponsored by NeoVox, the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies and the Africana Studies Department and the TransAfrica Project.
“Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo,” was a collaboration between Mihigo and the Syracuse-area Congolese refugee community and Syracuse University, Syracuse Stage and Ping Chong & Company, a New York City-based theatrical company that develops projects dealing with important cultural or civic issues.