“Capoeira is the best thing that has come into my life.”
Alex Karibu, 29, is now one of the three teachers of the Capoeira For Peace initiative.
Born in the capital of Kinshasa, Karibu has practiced this martial art for twelve years. With a smiley and friendly air, he explains that his passion for Capoeira was what seduced him to work with children.
A UNICEF Volunteer in Goma, he is working especially with vulnerable children and to reintegrate demobilized kids from armed groups in eastern Congo.
Orphaned by his father and mother, the practice of this martial art also received him as a family.
“I started in the world of Capoeira when I was very young. It gave me confidence. I started to love it from the first moment I saw it”, he smiles as he remembers.
It all started in 2005 when he attended a workshop with a Brazilian Master coming from Belgium.
“There I thought I wanted to become the ambassador of Capoeira in my country and help others with the values of Capoeira.”
Since February 2016, when he landed in Goma, Karibu first came in contact with the spoils and traces of decades of conflict in eastern DR Congo.
“There are many children who join armed groups. This is the reason why I volunteered to come here and help develop this work with Capoeira”, he described.
In Swahili, ‘Karibu’ means ‘welcome’. And it is with this symbology that Alex chose to be called in the world of Capoeira.
For him, this martial art makes people come together and overcome their differences.
“Capoeira embraces the family context. It makes us all brothers and sisters. Capoeira is different, it does not make anyone aggressive. It promotes harmony between those who practice it and conveys mutual respect. “
Peaceful coexistence in a violent context is what moves Karibu in the daily classes that he teaches to vulnerable boys and girls in Goma – Capoeira for the promotion of peace in Congo.
Since the start of the work with the Capoeira For Peace team, coordinated by the Brazilian master Saudade, Karibu notes a progressive change in the behavior of the children.
“I already see positive results. It is not easy for children who have been with armed groups and who are far from their families.”
The work begins with winning the trust of boys and girls who have experienced some kind of trauma and deprivation.
“I always say that I am here to help them and that they can trust us. Many were mistreated, have suffered, and never learned values such as kindness”, he says.
In a rape context, these children grow and close themselves off like “a rock”.
Gradually, with the pedagogical and disciplinary work, “we are giving advices and watering with droplets of love so that we can help them in their transformation process. We are watering and planting a seed for these children to flourish”.
His dream is to continue teaching and spreading Capoeira with the message of peace in the communities where he acts.