(Gilbert Frank Daniels sharing his photography experience with the youth at YOLE!Africa)
At the beginning of this year, Merita Movement organized a road trip to DR Congo for the Young African Visionaries to go, share, learn and impact young people in Goma. I felt fortunate and honoured to have been chosen to join the caravan together with two other Young Visionaries, Ras Kasozi & Slim Emcee (UG) the poet.
This trip helped to connect with so many other young Africa youth who have changed their communities through their vision and passions such as Chiku and Chito Lwambo from Busara Dance Company, Gauis Kowene an international freelance journalist, Justin Kasereka a visual artist and well as family at Yole!Africa. This Seven day trip to Congo was action packed with each day bringing a different energy. We had workshops arranged for us by Christine Michelle between Yole!Africa, an organization empowering youth through Hip Hop Kulture and media) and HOLD (Humanitarian Organization for Lasting Development), an organization that is empowering young single mothers through practical skills and education.
(Gilbert participating in the cooking program with the women at HOLD DRC)
(Slim Emcee (UG) the poet, Truth From Africa founder, teaching poetry and the art of storytelling at HOLD DRC)
Brother Ras Kasozi who I usually like to call “Fashion Guru” held a 4 day fashion workshop with young Women teaching them practice skills of ready to fashion. Slim Emcee involved the young women in the art of storytelling and spoken word session to build their confidence to freely express themselves. The tone was set and energy was in the sky, except we had problem of language barrier since the Congo is a Francophone country (the only languages spoken where French &Swahili). Our Brothers Gaius Kowene & Justin Kasereka helped us a lot in translation during the workshops throughout the days as i held a photography and media workshop at Yole!Africa.
(Ras Kasozi, Kas Wear and Christine Michelle, Merita Movement leading the fashion design workshop at HOLD DRC)
(Visual artist Justin Kasereka interpreting for Ras Kasozi’s fashion design workshop at HOLD DRC)
I was happy to have taught a photography class in my fellow African peers with an interpreter for the first time. I loved the fact that most of the participants in my workshop were already passionate about some things like fashion, dance and emceeing amongst other activities and the photography gave them an opportunity to document and showcase their passions. For instance, one of the participants was a young lady Sylvie from HOLD who participated in the workshop to help document activities at HOLD and also pass on the skills other young women who showed interest and were not able to participate at the time.
(HOLD staff member participating in Sote Tujenge (Build Eachother) community arts showcase at YOLE!Africa)
During our last showcase which took place at Yole!Africa, I was so happy to that the participants of the photography workshop had grasped the skills enough to help document the showcases that were happening. In the end, every workshop ended up serving the other from fashion, emceeing, dance, photography & poetry.
(YOLE!Africa, Merita Movement media team capturing the Sote Tujenge community arts showcase)
I am thankful that Merita Movement gave me the opportunity to impact my fellow youth and share as well as learn from the Young African Visionaries Caravan. I have since kept in touch with some of the participants to continuously sharing knowledge through social media . I was also able to reunite with two brothers Gauis Kowene and Martin Lukongo at the time they visited Kampala.
(Gilbert’s photography participants reclaiming their expression through art at YOLE!Africa)
I believe that trips like this are very important; not only for us who travel to different places to share wisdom points but also to the communities where we come from. Today I am researching and working on how to put together a photography & media curriculum which can enable me to extend experiences sharing them with student in secondary schools in Uganda to inspire them to believe in the dreams.
(Audience members captured at Sote Tujenge community arts showcase at YOLE!Africa, DRC)
Written by photographer Gilbert Frank Daniels, Merita Movement Member.