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On the streets of DR Congo’s Goma, rap gives youth a voice |

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Goma, DRC – A young voice sings, “What’s up in Congo Kabila? Why so much crime, violence, corruption and killings?”

The lyrics are from the latest album by Shusha Ma Flow, a hip-hop collective made up of teenagers living on the streets of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Here in Goma life is dangerous. We live in a war zone,” says 16-year-old Asili Power (nicknamed “Black Magic Power”).

Hundreds of children live on the streets here. Most have fled the armed conflict between the government and more than 120 armed groups in the area. Despite the presence of more than 16,000 UN peacekeepers in the region, the conflicts rage on.

Elections were scheduled for December 23 but were postponed by a week. Officials cited a fire that destroyed voting machines, but opposition groups accused authorities of trying to keep President Joseph Kabila, who is due to step down after ruling the country for nearly 18 years, in power.

Goma’s street children find shelter in the city’s many slums, which have been dubbed “al-Qaeda” or “FBI”. Here they face many dangers, including drug abuse, forced recruitment into armed groups and rape.

The young rappers of Shusha Ma Flow want to change the status quo.

“People in Congo are suffering, but Africa is able,” says 19-year-old Ivoire Papati Dance.

Music activist Wanny S-King works with PASO, a social change association based in Marseille, to teach Goma’s street teenagers to channel their anger and fear into art.

“The state puts them in prison, instead of caring for these kids,” Wanny says.

Wanny knows the streets. After his political protest song Wale Wale began to hit the bars of the city, Kabila’s administration began to actively hunt him.

Wanny is sceptical about the presidential elections: “You might replace the president, but the corrupt system does not change.”

Yet, the rappers of Shusha Ma Flow believe in the power of their beats: “Hip-hop transports me into paradise, rap slams the sound of all my troubles.”

SONGS:

https://soundcloud.com/association-paso/sets/shusha-ma-flow-maisha-mu-barabara/s-nUpaS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=pyRfeHkcZBA

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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