Playwright Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-Prize winning work, “Ruined,” was staged on the evening of November 9 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC with the cooperation of The Enough Project. A powerful depiction of the plight of Congolese women during ongoing war, “Ruined” is the product of Nottage’s conversations with various women in the Democratic Republic of Congo during her travels to the state. Told in a bar in a remote mining town, the stories of Mama Nadi, Sophie, Salima and others illustrate the effects of a war waged largely upon women’s bodies. Sophie, portrayed by Condola Rashad, is damaged, the mark of war left on her body, she has been cast out from her family and community -she is “ruined.” Mama Nadi, read by Portia, agrees to take Sophie in as one of the many girls who work her bar, presenting a unique dialectic and provoking all to consider instances in which the oppressed might become an oppressor. As Nottage explained in a panel discussion following the staging, she intended to provide an accurate representation of the reality in Congo, of ethics blurred by conflict and the remarkable resilience of the women she has encountered there.
Vital Voices honoree and internationally-recognized journalist Chouchou Namegabe was also featured in the panel discussion, alongside Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. Chouchou shared her perspective of the war and ongoing violence, speaking on the use of rape and sexual violence as a tool of war. Chouchou is the 2009 Knight International Journalism Award Winner, recognized by the International Center for Journalists, she called for the guarantee of freedom of the press in Congo. She went on to insist:
“Our voices must be heard. Silence must come to an end…Change must come from the women. Change can come to Congo, and it must come from the women of Congo.”
John Prendergast spoke on the role of conflict minerals such as coltan, used widely in the production of electronics including cell phones, in fueling and perpetuating the war in Congo. Prendergast urged that American consumers voice their concerns to corporations that benefit from “the human misery” that results from the illegal mineral trade.
To take action on Congo, visit: Raise HOPE for Congo -The Enough Project
To support Chouchou Namegabe, visit: Vital Voices Women of the Congo Training Fund