By: Bob M´landu/Bana Ngayime.
The Arnold Janssen festival is a music competition organized every year in honour of St. Arnold Janssen, the founder of the Divine Word Missionaries. It is aim is to promote the local culture and to make the congregation of the Divine Word known in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This moment of togetherness and friendship cemented in the values and the charisma of its founder, allows the choirs from the parishes and Divine Word institutions in Kinshasa to present their songs, dance, theatre, poems, etc.
The first edition of St. Arnold Janssen festival took place during the year 2010 in “Notre Dame d’Afrique” (Our Lady of Africa) which is one of the three parishes the Divine Word Missionaries administer in Kinshasa.
The idea of the festival was born from a reflection according to which, over the years, the Divine Word Missionaries have used music to promote the local culture and the liturgy. It is the initiative of three Fathers: Bernard Vande Boom with the group “les petits chanteurs de Kenge et les Chem Yetu”, Alfons Müller with “le Studios Ngayime et les Bana Ngayime; also composed the Zairian mass in Kikongo and Nicholas Berends with “les Fils de Core”.
A new generation of Congolese SVD have come up over the years. They include fathers: Jean Bosco Ngipe, missionary in Brazil, Achille Mpila in Chad and Nicholas Makolo in Congo.
The initiative of the Divine Word Missionaries to incorporate the local culture into the liturgy with local songs is the crib of various Congolese catholic musicians. Among them you will find, Paul Balenza, father Makamba, Father Makolo, Pepe Kibala, Victor Maniang, Etienne Bakole, Betofe Jean Pierre, Bana Ngayime, etc. The majority of them have taken advantage of the Ngayime Studio to record their songs.
Today, following the footsteps of the Missionaries mentioned above, the Arnold Janssen festival (FESTARJA) wants to bring to light the talents of many Congolese youth that have benefited from the music formation offered to them by the Divine Word Missionaries.
The Arnold Janssen Festival has celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. Something that started in a very small area, is today known in the diocese of Kinshasa and other dioceses where Divine Word Missionaries work and even in some groups outside the Church.
It is about a new form of dialogue with the secular world and other churches. Father Alfons Müller and Bana Ngayime are working on a DVD that will contain all the festival’s editions celebrated so far.