South Sudanese artists use Street Art to promote peace
A group of young, creative South Sudanese artists is using visual expressions to convey a strong message of peace. The youth of the #Ana Taban peace movement have painted murals in various locations of Juba, depicting their cries for peace.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Ayak Chuol Deng a member of the Ana Taban group, adding “when you stimulate someone’s brain visually, the image sticks.”
The Ana Taban movement, literally translated into ‘I am tired’ is the brain child of a group of young musicians, actors and play wrights who are looking to use their talents to promote peace.
Ayak says their street art speaks volumes to the country’s leaders and the people of South Sudan in general. “For instance a painting near the Logali House in Juba depicts a boy chopping off his roots,” adding that “this strong imagery makes one ruminate over the impact of the fighting on the young generation.”
Similarly a mural of a fisherman, doctor and public motorcycle rider also known as a boda-boda, is meant to depict the potential of the people of South Sudan – if given the chance.
Ayak is quick to point out that the peace campaign is not political, but is a creative and alternative way of expression. “We inform all the artists looking to join the campaign that we are strictly apolitical and our core value is peace and love for the nation,” she explains.
She says the street art is generating a lot of public interest, saying people have talked a lot about peace and an alternative approach is needed to “provoke” and “invoke” action.”
The group that recently launched a song titled ‘Ana Taban’, to vocalise their yearning for peace and frustrations with war, is now looking to use the Ana Taban platform of self-expression to promote reconciliation.
“We are using art as a conversation starter then we will move on to workshops and group discussions,” she explains, hoping to build on the positive public response to propel the Ana Taban campaign forward.
Ayak reminds the campaign followers that the first step to building peace is to take ownership of the situation as South Sudanese, saying “unless we express ourselves positively we will not feel, and cannot move forward.”
She says perhaps the most powerful message is for us to forget our associations, “let us not cocoon ourselves in tribal, religious or political affiliations, let us break those molds and actually reach out.”