Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 21, 2018-Sunday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

In Pics: Tired of war, South Sudanese youth turn to art for peace

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation has been embroiled in civil war since 2013. Many young activists in the country and in exile, have taken to art to demand peace in their homeland.

world Updated: Jul 13, 2017 11:50 IST
Reuters, South Sudan
south sudan,anataban,africa
Irene Lasu, 26, a spoken word poet and member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph in Juba, South Sudan.(Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but soon descended into war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions often along ethnic lines.

Supporters on both sides of the conflict, have taken hostilities to the Internet, using Facebook and Twitter to take each other on with posts that are sometimes deemed hate speech.

Murals made by members of the Ana Taban collective, are seen on walls in Juba, South Sudan. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

Enter Ana Taban, meaning “I’m tired” in Arabic, a group of young musicians, fashion designers and poets who are using art and culture as a path towards peace.

Ayak Chol Deng, 31, an epidemiologist, spoken word poet, activist, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at her home in Juba, South Sudan., April 20, 2017. Deng was born in a refugee camp in Gambela, briefly lived in Cuba as a child, and then studied and lived in Kharoum, Sudan and Nairobi, Kenya. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

“I hope for better serviced institutions, better opportunities for youth, a country where I don’t need to be from a specific tribe,” said Deng.

In one of her poems, she writes: “Heal this spirit that’s broken, piece together pieces of me, my affiliation, or tongue, colour, politics, restore what’s human in me, peace, come find me, enrich this fist choking, un-taint my disputes, resonating, unhinge my words, elevating, unleash a conciliation, everlasting, peace, come find me.”

Youths attend an open mic event organised by Ana Taban at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

The group holds regular open-air performances around the capital Juba and in other towns to call for peace and to educate their fellow citizens on the need for a non-violent resolution of the conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Meen Mabior Meen, (stage name Menimen), 30, a rap musician and a founding member of Ana Taban, sits next to the crib of his new born child, in Juba, South Sudan. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

Meen Mabior Meen, 30, a rap musician and founding member of Ana Taban, said it is a platform for the youth to tackle issues that can change the country. Meen started singing in 2000, in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, together with his cousin Juk Mayiik, who was killed during the fighting in July 2016 in Juba. He returned to South Sudan in 2007.

Abul Oyay, 30, a painter and a student in Peace and Conflict Studies and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a portrait in her home in Nairobi, Kenya. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

Such powerful aspirations are also attracting people outside of the country to the group, at #Anataban, in order to play their role in encouraging peace.

Winnie Godi, 25, a designer and member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at one of her favourite places, Jebel Lodge, in Juba, South Sudan. (REUTERS)

They include Abul Oyay, 30, a university student in neighbouring Kenya and Winnie Godi, 25, a designer and member of Ana Taban, whose last collection was presented at Nairobi International Fashion Festival and called Anataban Collection.

Apart from performance art, street art such as murals are a tool used by the Ana Taban collective to highlight the concerns of young South Sudanese people about their homeland. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)
A word cloud mural calling for peace and an end to violence made by members of Ana Taban is seen on a wall in Juba, South Sudan. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

Ana Taban’s members do not limit themselves to theatrical performances. Bright murals with messages calling for peace, created by its members, can be seen on walls around Juba.

Jacob Bul Bior, 28, a radio and theatre actor was born in South Sudan and left for Kakuma in Kenya, when he was four. He moved back to South Sudan in 2007. Together with Woyee Film & Theatre, he made civic education films and theatre, showing people how to vote during the referendum. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

“We are focused on bringing the country together, bringing people together. We are neutral, we are non-partisan,” said Jacob Bul Bior, 28, a radio and theatre actor.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 11:49 IST