Bidibidi Got Talent: South Sudan Refugees Use Music, Dance and Drama to Speak Out on Critical Issues
By James Odong, Communications Officer
They came from all walks of life, many having trekked kilometres on foot and dressed to ‘kill’ in unique attire and jewellery complete with the latest wacky hairstyle.
These were youth, both from the refugee and host community (Ugandan) of Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe District. They were gathered at Yoyo Primary School for the highly anticipated music, dance and drama gala dubbed Bidibidi Got Talent, to showcase their talents to the community.
Some of the groups were formed spontaneously, while others were supported by agencies like Save the Children.
Bidibidi, host to mainly refugees from South Sudan, is said to be the largest refugee settlement in the world with about 280,000 people.
The songs which they sung and the drama performed had themes on social cohesion, peace, domestic violence, education and the effects of alcoholism on families.
Not even the scorching sun would deter the huge ecstatic crowd which had turned up to enjoy the energetic performances.
Save the Children is supporting Ariwa 1 Drama Group and Kiranga Dance Group; all from Zone 5 in Bidibidi Settlement. Both managed to sail through to the finals. Ariwa 1 Drama Group emerged the best in the grand finale and was awarded with a certificate as well as the opportunity to travel to Kampala to compete with other groups at the national theatre.
Background to Bidibidi Got Talent
The Bidibidi Child Protection Working Group members organized an inter-agency assessment on the situation of youth in the settlement in April 2017. This was conducted in response to the participatory assessment findings in which refugees had raised concerns of lack of activities targeting/geared towards the youth.
The assessment looked at the youth situation in all the five zones of the settlement through focus group discussions. Throughout all the zones, youth highlighted priorities related to livelihood and youth-led opportunities. This was also identified as a key factor for social cohesion and the promotion of peace and security in Bidibidi.
Hence, the Bidibidi Got Talent was birthed to become a platform for identifying the talents of the youth within the settlement and neighboring communities. Save the Children is one of the leading partners that sponsored the event, working under the Child Protection Working Group, government and youth representatives.
According to Rose Temayia, the Senior Child Protection Officer – Save the Children Yumbe Sub Area Office, Bidibidi Got Talent encourages children and youth to voice their problems as well as their dreams through drama, dance and music.
“The groups that emerge as winners were encouraged to submit proposals for funding in order to be able to use their art as a tool for educating communities on protection issues,” she said.
The project is designed to be an annual event with the winners taking on the role of mentors to emerging talent as well as a resource for humanitarian actors on advocating peaceful coexistence within the community. It will also give opportunity for the youth to have art as a viable source of livelihood.
This event is a multi-agency initiative led by the youth, with the support of local authorities, the Office of the Prime Miniter (OPM), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and humanitarian agencies that work with children and youth. The other sponsors for the inaugural event were MTN and Mukwano Industries Limited.