---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "John Ashworth" <ashworth.j...@gmail.com>
Date: 1 Dec 2016 10:56
Subject: [sudans-john-ashworth] South Sudan artists protest civil war with
peace campaign
To: "Group" <sudans-john-ashwo...@googlegroups.com>

South Sudan artists protest civil war with peace campaign

Originally published November 25, 2016 at 4:30 am Updated November 25,
2016 at 5:17 am
The Associated Press

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Musicians played lively tunes in South
Sudan’s capital, and pedestrians and market shoppers watched the
impromptu concert with curiosity. A soldier in desert camouflage
walked around, surveying the scene.

As the drumming grew more insistent, the audience stood silent and
motionless seemingly afraid to join the fun. Then the soldier started
to breakdance.

That broke the ice and women swayed to the beat. Soon children and
adults were dancing, enjoying a rare respite from South Sudan’s
festering conflict.

For many in South Sudan, the arts have become a rare haven of peace in
a young country that has known little but civil war. A group of
artists are campaigning for peace, with pop-up street performances and
murals across the capital, Juba. The activists have taken the name Ana
Taban, or “I am tired,” in Arabic.

“We are tired of this, the constant fear, the war,” said Manas
Mathiang, 32, a musician and artist who leads the movement.

Recently Mathiang met with nearly 30 artists who are part of Ana
Taban. Members come from many of South Sudan’s main tribes. They say
ethnicity has never been an issue, and they invite other artists
“regardless of where they come from.”

The group has painted vibrant murals in Juba like one near the
airport, a sky-blue wall depicting athletes, religious leaders and
doctors under the slogan “Let us all do our part.” The artists also
stage skits in street markets to promote reconciliation.

Ana Taban was started after fighting in Juba killed hundreds of people
in July. A group of South Sudanese artists who had taken refuge in
Kenya came together to create the movement. When it was safe to return
to the capital, they brought home the campaign for peace.

Transcending tribe and politics, the artists use their work to try to
unify South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, which won independence
from Sudan in 2011. But then civil war broke out two years later, and
tens of thousands have been killed amid concerns of ethnic violence.

A longing for an end to the fighting can be found in the country’s art
and music. Some of the most popular songs on the radio are reggae
because their lyrics of peace can be easily understood, said a local
DJ, Daniel Danis.

Another member of Ana Taban, Deng Forbes, proudly held up his favorite
work, a drawing of a child crying in the shape of a map of South

“My people are diverse, 64 tribes,” Forbes said. “Art is a universal
language, it’s a simple language.”

In some ways, South Sudan’s arts scene is like that in other
countries, clustered in an offbeat section of the capital. Good
equipment is rare. Artists say it is difficult to make money from
their work. Feuds are common.

But much of South Sudan’s art is focused on the country’s political

Lual D’Awol, a popular rapper who appeared in an Ana Taban music
video, said his songs about the lack of electricity and running water
are banned from the radio by the government.

“It’s telling the truth that citizens of South Sudan feel, and I feel
like I have to paint that picture and give a message that is genuinely
happening,” D’Awol said.

Elsewhere in the capital, a nighttime concert a few weeks ago brought
a rare feeling of ease. On a soccer field, roughly 1,000 South
Sudanese danced and sang into the night, some climbing onto brick
barriers for a better view.

On a makeshift stage, young women danced with men wearing the colors
of South Sudan’s flag, members of the dancing troupe Sonzwgi, which
roughly translates to “storytelling.”

The dance is a mashup of elements from different tribes across the
country, said the group’s leader, Emmanuel Aban, saying it was
choreographed to foster togetherness.

As Sonzwgi performed, women ran to the stage and danced, and men
laughed freely. Aban smiled, saying: “It’s a way to send a message to
the people.”


John Ashworth


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