Its 9 o’clock, Friday morning, and the Amani Festival is about to start. What does this yearly event mean for the people that do business outside the festival doors? I spoke to few of them to find out.
Just next to the entrance of the festival, a young man is sitting under a red umbrella, selling Sim-Cards and units for Airtel and Orange. He explains: “The Amani Festival helps my business a lot. Because I can sell a lot of units, and people come here to change their money. This way, I can also profit from the festival. It does not only bring peace, but also profit.” One of his neighbours who also sells units and Sim-Cards, joins our conversation and adds: “The Amani Festival helps us to sell more of our goods. It also stimulates us to collaborate well with our neighbours. All people mobilize in order to maximise something in their daily lives, because during the period of the Amani Festival, there is a lot of happiness, and there are a lot of customers. And for this reason, we wish that the festival would take place every month.”
Behind the stalls in front of a small restaurant, two girls are preparing vegetables. Unfortunately, they don’t have time to talk to me, as there is still so much work to do. A few moments after, however, a woman arrives and gives orders to the girls. She turns out to be the owner of this place that offers a variety of Congolese dishes and argues: “My restaurant is running well all days – both with and without the festival. But for me, the festival is good, because it gives me courage to continue with my business.” In her opinion, Goma could profit from more events like the Amani Festival.
I enter a copy shop nearby where I also have the chance to talk to the owner of the place. It turns out soon that the festival does not have a big impact on his business of printing or fixing computers. “But the festival nevertheless has an economic impact”, he says and continues: “It is not just about having fun or being distracted for three days. It is important that the festival diversifies in in this regard, and not only focuses on music and fun. It’s all about economics and it is also important to talk about unemployment.”
Next to the street where motorbikes are constantly passing by, a young man is displaying bracelets, sunglasses and other accessoires. He seems eager to talk to me and states: “When the festival takes place, it is cool for our business. The people buy more often than they do usually. For the ones who pass by, they want to buy sunglasses for example. You see, I sell Star-Sunglasses. In fact, during the days of the festival, I can sell more of these sunglasses which are more expensive. During the other days, this is more difficult.”