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

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South Sudan took independence from Sudan in 2011, but quickly went to war in 2013, after President Salva Kiir has sent his deputy Riek Machar, which sparked a conflict that led to armed factions often lo Long ethnic lines.

Proponents of both sides of the conflict have taken hostilities on the Internet, using Facebook and Twitter to catch the messages that are sometimes considered expressions of hatred.

Enter Ana Taban, which means “I’m tired” in Arabic, a group of young musicians, fashion designers and poets who use art and culture as a path to peace.

Ayak Chol Deng, a 31-year-old epidemiologist, word poet, activist and founding member of Ana Taban, who puts a photo at his home in Juba, South Sudan, April 20, 2017. Deng was born in a refugee camp in Gambella Lived briefly in Cuba
“I hope better institutions serve, better opportunities for young people, a country where I did not need to belong to a specific tribe,” Deng said.

In one of his poems, he wrote: “Heal the spirit is broken, pick up the pieces of me, my affiliation or language, color, politics, restore what is human in me, peace, come to me, enrich involved In this covered fist – Hold my arguments, resonancez, unleash my words, uplift, conciliation of liberation, eternal peace, come and get me.

The young people participate in an open microphone event led by Ana Taban Aggrey Jaden Cultural Center in Juba, South Sudan.

The group regularly organizes outdoor shows around the capital Juba and other cities to demand peace and educate their fellow citizens about the need for a peaceful solution to the conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Meen Meen Mabior, 30, a musician and founding member of rap Ana Taban, said it was a platform for young people to deal with problems that can change the country. Meen began singing in 2000 in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya with his cousin Juk Mayiik, who died during the fighting in July 2016, Juba. He returned to South Sudan in 2007.

Such far-reaching aspirations also draw people out of the country to the group, to #anate to play their role in promoting peace.

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

In addition to art performance, street art, such as murals, is a tool used by the group to highlight Ana Taban’s Southern Sudan concerns of young people in her homeland. (Andreea Campeanu / Reuters)

Members of Ana Taban are not limited to theatrical performances. Bright murals with messages calling for peace, created by its members, can be seen on the walls around Juba.

“We are focused on reuniting the country, uniting people. We are neutral, we are not in favor,” said Jacob Bul Bior, 28, an actor in radio and theater.

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