Tired of War: South Sudan Artists Promote Peace

By Gale Julius Dada

Three years into civil war, a group of artists in South Sudan are using their talents to promote peace.

Ana Taban, Arabic for "I'm Tired", is a group of painters, poets, musicians, fashion designers, and cartoonists using social media, art, and drama to promote peace and non-violence.

"We use art, as a platform, as our tool, seeking this peace that we need and to speak up on issues that we think need correcting," said Ana Taban artistic coordinator Manasseh Mathiang.

“We the artistic youth community thought that enough is enough with silence. Enough is enough of just staying by and watching the country burn," Mr Mathaing said.

"And when we were together we were wondering 'Ok, now what we do?' because we are the influential youth around, and the majority of the population that is participating even in killing themselves and hate speech - youth like us. So we decided to come up with something that together explains what we feel and what the community at large feels."

"The lyrics we write [are about] the problem we face, or the solution we see," said singer Varna Joseph.

"Music has a very big role to influence other people to make changes," Ms Joseph said.

The group has been operating for a year and want youth to express their hopes for the country, so they organized the festival Hagana (It's Ours). More than 5000 people attended.

Their next campaign is Kojoron Fadi (Empty Saucepan), referring to the nearly 2 million displaced citizens facing famine and war.

“I’m tired of everything,” said Ms Joseph.

“I’m a single mother. The fact that I see my son suffers everyday going to school, maybe sometimes to sleep hungry - there is no money, we can’t afford to buy food,” she said.

“I’m tired of seeing other mothers suffer - I could say I am better off - but there are other mothers who really suffer, and they are suffering alone, they don’t know what to do, watching their children dying of hunger, and they are helpless.”

“Violence is no way - no more,” said spoken word poet Monday Luak Mathiang.

“Violence can’t solve. We all lose at the end of the day through violence,” he said.

“So sports, poetry, music, and art in general, that’s the only way we are riding now towards peacebuilding in this country, South Sudan."

Cover Photo: Ana Taban/FaceBook

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