The Franco-Congolese dancer who uses his art to help victims of abuse
2019-01-01 12:42:44 -


By Juliette Chantitch


Franco-Congolese dancer and choreographer Bolewa Sabourin is co-founder of the arts organisation Loba, meaning ‘express yourself’ in Lingala, the language of his father’s native land.

He is also the initiator of a project called ‘Re-création’, aimed at helping women from both France and DR Congo who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse, encouraging them to reclaim their bodies through the medium of dance.

The project recently raised €1,900 for its work through the recent ‘Likaba4Loba’ crowdfunding campaign.

Sabourin was born in Paris but raise in Kinshasa, the capital of what was then Zaire, till he was six years old. He is intimately aware of the conflict and violence in the country, where more than 1,000 women are raped every day, according to

The project Re-création was born in 2017 when Sabourin met Dr Denis Mukwege. Widely known as ‘the man who heals women’, Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who has helped more than 50,000 victims of abuse. He was recently awarded with Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

At a conference in Paris on 8 March 2016, Dr Mukwege explained that many of these women do not even have the capacity to express themselves because it is not part of their own culture.

After a year of research, the duo devised an appropriate therapy to help women victims of abuse.

Sabourin wants to use dance as a therapeutic tool, to allow women to express themselves verbally by way of the expression of their body. According to him, the trauma they experienced causes a psychic blockage, and dance is the best way to help them free themselves from that block. The programme includes dance sessions, followed by sessions of talking and sharing.

It isn’t the first time the choreographer has used dance as therapy, as he faces struggles with integration into french society when he was younger. Dance, and that connection with his ancestral African culture, he says, helped him get through the hard times, and he sees this project as an opportunity to share his treatment.

As Dr Mukugwe says of his work: “Even if the road to recovery is still long and difficult, the victims have the potential to transform their pain in power.”

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