About the Banyamulenge

The Banyamulenge is the word representing the people who speak the Kinyamulenge language, living in South Kivu, DR Congo. They have lived in that particular area for around five centuries. It’s a community that holds a unique culture exhibited in the Banyamulenge way of life. The traditions of their day-to-day life are unique to their people among other tribes of the Congo.

In the midst of life’s varied situations, the culture and unique traditions of the Banyamulenge strengthen them. Celebration of their traditions encourages togetherness and provides a cultural bond that unites them. For the Banyamulenge, their cultural framework highlights and helps them appreciate the beauty of life. It provides the key to their happiness and even day-to-day survival.

The cultural traditions of the Banyamulenge can be grouped around two main aspects of life. One set encompasses morality, life in the community, and the family. The other set includes their unique songs, celebrations, dances, and other artistic traditions.

Our Project

Documenting, celebrating, and preserving the culture

We will be documenting the culture and traditions of the Banyamulenge, preserving them for posterity and bringing unity to Banyamulenge people separated due to war in their home land. The footage we will be taking will highlight varied and interesting aspects of their culture and will include:

How the Banyamulenge lived before war broke out in their villages

  • What life looks like for a particular family
  • Various community gatherings
  • Cultural songs and dances (dances for their cattle, families, religion, etc.)
  • General community life, interpersonal relationships, beliefs, and norms

How the Banyamulenge are living now, in foreign lands to which they have had to flee

  • How the Banyamulenge are received in various countries
  • How the Banyamulenge are relating to each other and their current communities

Our Goals

What we are hoping to accomplish

By capturing on video the lives and culture of this marginalized community from the Eastern part of Congo, we bring their struggles to light. Americans and others who might not otherwise have a connection to the Banyamulenge will be able to see how Banyamulenge people have lived and how they are living now. What they see will open their eyes and their minds, and hopefully inspire them. We are positive that once those with the means to help the marginalized Banyamulenge are made aware of the needs that exist, they will be willing to provide funds and other support to aid the orphan, widow, and refugee populations.

Equally important, however, is the impact of our project on the Banyamulenge community, bother in terms of the perception of the community externally, and among members of the community scattered across the nations. After the many years of war, the mention of “Banyamulenge” brings to mind the war conflicted areas of the world, overshadowing the rich cultural heritage that exists apart from the surrounding violence. We want to document the cultural traditions of the Banyamulenge so that they are preserved and available to anyone seeking to learn about them. And, as the number of Banyamulenge people in foreign countries is increasing (due to their inability to safely remain in their homeland) our project aims to allow them a connection to their fellow tribe members. Those whose may have otherwise lost their connection to their culture, or even those raised in a foreign land who never had first hand experience in the Congo, may though our project get exposed to their culture and know who they are.


Where and how it will take place

We will be producing a DVD and a Web site, based on video and written content from first-hand sources. The video will take place in 5 different African countries where the Banyamulenge are living currently, namely:

  1. Congo,
  2. Rwanda,
  3. Burundi,
  4. Uganda, and
  5. Kenya.

The cameras will be sent to our contact person in Nairobi, Kenya, who will distribute the cameras to our contacts in other areas, who will be in charge of securing their local footage.

In addition, some footage may be taken in St. Louis, which will serve as the USA headquarters of the project. All footage that comes in may be used for either the Web site or the DVD.


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