Residents here are worried about rumours that M23 rebels might try to retake Goma this holiday season. On the streets, there are very few signs advertising Christmas sales. Few people have gone out to buy Christmas trees and ornaments. However, the holiday spirit of hope has not been completely lost.
By Gaïus Kowene, Goma
Yes, the political climate is tense. But, no, not everyone is willing to forego Christmas. In fact, some young people RNW spoke to are so intent on celebrating the festivities that they’re doing odd jobs to earn some extra money for the season. Others are concerned less about money than on fulfilling their dreams in the new year.
“Since the whole M23 saga, money hasn’t really been flowin", says Papy Inusi. "People have stopped buying.” The young man who runs a small retail business at the Higher Institute of Commerce (ISC) is hoping that the long hours he's been putting in will increase his revenues.
“I decided to start opening at 7 a.m. and close by 6 p.m.”, he explains. “With the little extra money I get, I reckon I’ll be able to buy some drinks to share with family and friends.”
As for beyond 31 December, Papy looks forward to a much more stable Kivu. “I’m sure we will have peace”, he says before his thoughts return to business. He adds: “I will then be able to expand my small shop into a large food supply store.”
He hoptes that 2013 is a year in which all artists will be acknowledged and appreciated.
“Preparations are not only material”, insists James Nzabara, another young man from Goma. “I am preparing myself spiritually to praise the Lord for protecting me all this time. That’s the most important thing for me this holiday season”, he says.
Then there are other young people who are not doing anything special as the year winds down. As Joëlle Bwende says dismissively: “I don’t see why we should do anything special. I’m not. These days are ordinary days, like any other day.”
But Joëlle is preparing for something else. “There is a world scout convention in Canada in 2013”, she says. “My dream is to be part of the delegation that will represent my country. It will be a great step forward for the youth of Goma because we will have a voice at the conference.”
And the young woman is not alone in her travel fantasies. Many other youths in North Kivu see going abroad as an escape from the instability in their province.
Regardless of their priorities this Christmas, Papi, Meschack, James and Joëlle are all doing their part to reach long-term goals. However, without peace, stability and good governance in the DRC, they may be left wishing for a long time to come.