Basankusu, DR Congo: Celebrating World Youth Day


The solemnity of Christ the King is well known as the universal day for the youth. In the diocese of Basankusu, DRC this year, not withstanding the universal theme of ‘the good use of means of communication’, Bishop Joseph Mokobe chose a particular theme: ‘CHRIST THE KING OF PEACE’. This is because in Basankusu town and its surroundings, in the recent past there have been a lot of cases of youth engaging in activities that do not promote peace, harmony and coexistence.

The youth have engaged in armed robbery, fights in sports activities and other gatherings. They are being manipulated by a few influential people, especially some politicians for their own benefit. This has caused some lack of interest in important and productive activities, but they now like to lazy about and take drugs of all kinds. There is no longer respect for one another, especially to elders, which is one of the values that the people here treasure. This has negatively influenced the behaviour of the young people in the area. In an attempt to try and bring some consciousness to the youth, the Bishop asked all parishes to see the best way to celebrate this year’s Christ the King with some input, prayer and where possible some peaceful sports activities to help show the youth that peaceful sports encounters are still possible.

Responding to this call, in the quasi-parish of St. Matthew, we assembled all the youths in one of the sub-parishes. We made a walk for peace. So all the youths from different sub-parishes had to trek to the venue the Saturday before the celebration. I joined in those from Basa II where we walked a distance of around 15 Km to the venue. The youths came in large numbers from different sub-parishes. We prepared an input after which we tried to designate a tentative quasi-parish youth leadership. Then we divided the youths in groups to share their experiences about the current happenings then propose some solutions and resolutions that can bring about some change. From their sharings, joblessness, abject poverty, lack of professional skills, and frustrations, were among the main causes that lead the youth here to engage into drugs then become hostile. We as well had presentations from different choirs, we had stories and riddles. Since the number was too huge to be accommodated in any house, these activities helped us to keep awake the whole night outside. Those who were lucky to have a mat, spread them and laid their heads to rest. In the morning during the Eucharistic celebration, as directed by the Bishop, the youths made a promise to promote peace wherever they are and asked all adults to help them in fulfilling this.

Unfortunately, the football match that we organized for them did not take place since the football equipment that we asked to hire from one of the teams from Basankusu disappointed us; they did not bring it as we had agreed. Since the quasi-parish has not yet had its own sports attires, not even a ball, we had no choice but to forego the sports activities that were in our programme. However, I still admired the enthusiasm of the youth and the joy of the experience they had in coming together and discuss things that concern them. For many, it was a first time experience. Enthusiastically and joyfully, they walked back to their different places. If time and means allow, we agreed to try to make such encounters at least twice a year to accompany them. We hope and pray that our constant presence among the young people can make an impact on their lives.  

Frederick Botaka Yufela, MHM

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