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Ana Taban calls on local artists to use art in peacebuilding

Ana Taban calls on local artists to use art in peacebuilding

The founder of Ana Taban Arts Initiative told a spectrum of artists from Yei comprising of musicians, comedians, artists of fine art, dramatists, as well as dancers to embrace peace and reconciliation through their respective artistic fields.

Manasseh Mathiang, the initiative coordinator of Ana Taban, said artists should use their God-given creative skills to speak up against hate speech, to actively engage stakeholders in peacebuilding, as well as proactively participate in peace issues that affect the society as a unit. 

Artists from the Ana Taban group, which means ‘I am tired’ in Arabic, organised a day of painting murals on the streets of Yei town with pictures and messages that promote peace and denounce war such as No War, No More Bloodshed and Anta Taban.

“Our main goal as an organization is to ensure and demand that we have a bloodshed free 2017,” said Mathiang, adding that his group has already embarked on a strategy to visit different states in South Sudan to mobilize youth.

“We believe that if we fully engage youth around the country and speak with one voice, we will steer a change in the way things are run in the country,” said Mathiang. “Such efforts demand that artists coin their lyrics or drama skits, in a way that benefits every tribe.”

Addressing a group of 62 artists, he said, “We are not going to leave Yei empty. We hope that before we leave, we will have planted seeds of hope and a ‘Ana Taban’ Chapter here in Yei, so that local artists can continue to implement the Ana Taban message in our absence.”

“The country is ours, and it is up to us to take up the responsibility to fix the wrong in it,” he advised. “To the artists, take it that there is power in arts, and through our arts, we can make South Sudan a better place to live in.”

Mathiang noted that diseases that are infecting South Sudan are tribalism, ethnically triggered hatred and hate speech, happening both on the ground and on social media.  

“You may not know the effect of your statement, how many people will lose their lives through it, so be responsible with what you say or write on social media or what to teach your children,” Mr. Mathiang emphasized.

Although Yei is relatively calm at the moment, Mathiang said that he has noticed that there is a lot of anger and fear in the hearts of Yei residents. “A lot of bad things have happened; people are traumatized, but for you to move on with your life, you need to let go of the past and forgive one another,” he added.

Mathiang highlighted the many challenges facing the arts industry in Yei, including a lack of platform to showcase talents, limited opportunities and inadequate equipment such as music studios.

UNMISS through the Civil Affairs Division (CAD) supported the activity.

“We are supporting Ana Taban to enable them to carry on with their activities and messaging,” said Anne Schuit, UNMISS CAD Officer.