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Graphic novel inspires hope

April 7, 2011
Roza or the Courage to Choose Life , a graphic novel written and illustrated by Congolese artist Séraphin Kajibwami is the latest peace initiative from Development and Peace in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The graphic novel tells the story of a community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) struggling to restore peace after soldiers pillage their village. Unfortunately, this story is a familiar one in the DRC, where violence has become a way of life. Bands of soldiers often terrorize the countryside raping and pillaging. The loss of crops is devastating enough; but, that is not the worst of it. Mostly it is the overall sense of insecurity that everyone feels in the aftermath; the paralyzing fear of beginning anew for fear of losing everything again. Roza or the Courage to Choose Life testifies to the courage it takes to forgive and forget, and to start again.
Perhaps most interesting, is how shame and condemnation prevent child soldiers from returning to their communities. Most have no way to reclaim their lives, even though 'recruits' are coerced. The graphic novel does a good job of addressing the shame, anger and fear the community feels when child soldiers attempt to reintegrate.
This simple tale shows how the task of reconciliation is universally difficult. This graphic novel invites us contemplate the lives of Congolese villagers in a candid, accessible medium. The novel literally illustrates the importance of Development and Peace initiatives such as literacy programs and micro-lending.
So sit back and take 20 minutes to read something that will provide some food for thought, and hope for the future.
 

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