Independence day marked

By Ashlea Witoslawski

St Paul’s African House was full of colour, as the congregation came together to celebrate Congolese independence day on Saturday.

Community members, including City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, enjoyed some traditional food and conversation, followed by speeches discussing Congo.

Goulburn Valley Congolese Association president Jean Marie Mupenda said the day was about educating the community on the country’s history and current situation.

‘‘We need to bring peace to the Congo,’’ Mr Mupenda said.

‘‘We are lucky, but there are many thousands who are still in refugee camps due to the ongoing war.

‘‘We need to remember and think about them.

Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960, but political and civil unrest have continued to wreak havoc since.

Today, there are several rebel groups still operating and fighting for political control.

‘‘We need to share a prayer for the Congo and reflect,’’ Mr Mupenda said.

Mr Mupenda also praised the excellent work of local organisations Masomo Mbele and Voice For Silent People for their support of the Congo.

The event also welcomed some new arrivals to Shepparton.

Cr O’Keeffe said their arrival reminded everyone of the cultural diversity of the region.

‘‘It’s great to welcome new citizens and to celebrate and support our multicultural community,’’ Cr O’Keeffe said.

‘‘It is also important to remember the memory of others and unite.’’