Sekombi Katondolo is a peace activist, contemporary dancer, rumba musician and filmmaker. This 26-year-old also coordinates the annual Salaam Kivu International Film (SKIFF). The 3rd SKIFF is about to be presented in Goma, eastern Congo-Kinshasa (October 18-27, 2008). During this short digital film festival, the organisers, Yolé!Africa and Alkebu Film Production, organise a congress for the professionals of the cinema and operates as a platform of exchanges between professional artists and cultural operators. Workshops to build capacity of the cineastes of the Great Lakes region and develop the technicality of young talents are also held, Katondolo tells OGOVA ONDEGO.
Please introduce yourself
I am name is Sekombi Katondolo J. I was born in Goma, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am ninth in a family of 13 siblings. Since my childhood I was always close to my grand father who always took me with him to the foot of the Nyiragongo volcanic mountain to inspect his tree plantations. That’s where my love for environment and habit to hang out with elders started from. Goma is bordered in the South by the Lake Kivu.
Would you care to describe the environment you were born and grew up in further?
Due to its hospitable people and welcoming residents, cool mountain climate and the natural reserves it accommodates, Goma is the part of Congo that attracts tourists. Unfortunately, Goma has also seen bad times, serving as the headquarters of various political rebellions in the country that has robbed the region several million lives and the eruption of the Nyiragongo whose lava flow destroyed most of the town.
What is SKIFF and what are its objectives?
SKIFF is the annual Salaam Kivu International Film Festival. It is meant to be a flexible space to market Goma and its culture to the outside world through filmmaking besides providing artists the ability to show and discuss their own work, to collaborate, and to experiment visual expression on the international basis.
OK. Back to you: What kind of family did you grow up in?
I grew up in a warm family environment where my father was a religious drama actor and my mother was always smiling and knew how to give advice at the right time. That is the beginning of my love for art. My elder brothers and sisters who had already tasted the joy of acting on stage gave me the desire to follow their footsteps
For me, it’s a privilege to have an elder brother, Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, first as a teacher then as an idol, someone I live with in the same house. Isn’t that a true daily affection and perfection? He always takes care of me and looks after my training.
What do you enjoy doing ?
Talking about what I like sends me back to Goma. First of all, I like contemporary dance. I consider it as my profession and vocation then cinema; I use it as a tool to express my thoughts. I like the blue, the colour that symbolises prosperity. My best sport is the Kapoeira.
What kind of music do you like?
Congolese Rumba since I myself am a rumba musician.
Do you find Goma lacking in anything?
Goma has only about five theatre halls, something that does not allow artists to have enough space to express themselves fully. Although Goma is cosmopolitan, it doesn’t provide artistic diversity. But despite that fact, artists are determined to conduct their mission until the end, which is to open the town.
Is there any initiative of yours that you are particularly proud of?
In 1997, right after the first ‘war of liberation’, as the youth were abandoned to fend for themselves, face the phenomenon of child soldier and forced recruitment into the army, we formed a music group called TOUT- CHIC OBG Musica to protect the youth and fight for the children’s right. I was one of the co-founders.
In 2000, after the second war also said for liberation, I founded a new group called Conciantala jza with the aim of raising consciousness of people in the African great lakes region.