Earlier this week, two team members of African Perspectives were priviledged to meet and talk to Sudanese former child soldier and now internationally renown Hip Hop artist Emmanuel Jal as well as the Kenyan Hip Hop artist Juliani.
Read below what Emmanuel and Juliani would like to share with you:
[The Juliani interview was conducted by Ben Kargechu]
I sought to find out what the objectives of the WE WANT PEACE campaign, the anti-Tribalism Song (currently in the making) and objectives and reasons behind his “KAMA SI SISI” campaigns are.
On WE WANT PEACE and the anti-Tribalism Song
According to Juliani the only thing consistent and a big part of cultural identity in Africa is the tribal issue.
Tribalism is a problem in Africa and here we are discussing the negative aspects of it. It is common to hear of leaders who, when they get involved in vices in society run back to their tribe, to seek protection or cases where individuals are employed or given job opportunities or preference based on what tribe they are from. These are the negative aspects of tribalism that we want to tackle: instances where people get better jobs or opportunities not based on their qualifications and credentials but rather based on their tribal identity.
He explained that among the youth the biggest problems, as he knows it, are poverty and hunger standing against opportunities that will enable them to make something out of themselves:
We want to tackle this negative aspects of tribalism. A lot of negative aspects are associated to tribalism. We want to be able to reach out to the youth as the main target group, and speak to them through music and in partnerships with leading and prominent persons. [note of the editor: see the related press release]. Jal and I have fans who listen to us, hence we thought of using this medium called music to reach out to them. This campaign is appropriately designed at a time when 12 African nations had general elections.The anti-tribalism song has been endorsed by international as well as local personalities. The video for the song will be made some time in August.
Juliani also stated that peace is an effect of justice and equality. He says that peace is an outcome of equal opportunities and justice for all.
What we want to tell people is that we want peace not because we are better than them, rather because we want everyone to have equal chance and access to opportunities and resources they need for survival and to advance themselves. We want to let people know that peace is a big part in development.
On the KAMA SI SISI campaign
The KAMA SI SISI campaign is Juliani’s own initiative, independent from the We Want Peace campaign. The aim is to empower the youth economically, socially, politically and even spiritually. The aim of this campaign is to tell and to get the young people involved in decisions that affect their lives. The campaign started as a series of tours around local universities that involved getting the youth involved in wise decision making. It has now grown and in the near future they hope to have a KAMA SI SISI music forum – a nation wide tour that involves travelling around the different regional counties and spreading the same message of collective responsibility and wise decision making. It will involve local musicians (artists in the different counties) recording songs together.
Also, read more on our fresh article about the KAMA SI SISI campaign
[The EJ interview was conducted by Antony Mwangi]
What is your goal with “We Want Peace” and now with the anti-Tribalism initiative?
We Want Peace is a campaign that I am undertaking to bring peace to Sudan and Africa as a whole.
Tribalism is a big problem in Africa. As the tribal conflicts were going on in South Sudan, the government (of North Sudan) would come and bomb that area, hence the tribal conflicts made it easy for the central government to defeat the people of South Sudan. If there was no tribalism in Sudan, 2.5 million people would not have died there. Look at Kenya for example, there was going to be a genocide after the 2007 general election. The violence that was witnessed was caused by tribal differences. Tribalism has been more of a curse to the African continent. Everybody needs to be appreciated. No tribe is better than the other. Every tribe needs to be appreciate, however tribes should not divide us. We should all note that no one was willed to be born in whatever tribe we were born into: its not our wish or by our own doing, we were born into our various tribes not by choice.
The aim of this campaign is to ask the young people to take control, to make positive decisions to watch their actions. Most young people blame leaders for the tribal animosity, personally I wish to tell the youth that they should take responsibility for their own actions. The youth have the power to correct past mistakes and at the same time they the power to change the future. We should be proud of our tribe but we should not use this as an excuse to extend favours or empathy to people based on this sole reason. The world is changing fast, we need to work together. We have seen what distruction tribalism can cause, so lets learn from that. We are all human beings first before we are Kikuyu or Luo or Nuer or Dinka, or whatever tribe. Lets work to develop one another as human beings, because if you are more developed than I am, or have more than I do, I will invade you. This inequality leads to stealing and crime. Lets pay attention to the causes of this inequalities first.
How can we – anyone – address the issue of Tribalism?
We need to address tribalism in all aspects of our lives. If you wish to employ somebody, employ them by virtual of merit and qualifications not because they come from your tribe or a tribe you like.
Even when it comes to voting – vote for someone with a vision. Vote for a good leader based on vision.
If the president of Kenya does good or bad, out there (in the west) they won’t say he is a Kikuyu or a Luo, they will call him the Kenyan president, and if he is not doing well it’s the whole Kenya population that is going to suffer. Therefore we need a good leader for Kenya.
If you are voting for a Sudanese, vote for a qualified Sudanese leader, someone with the people’s interest at heart, someone willing to die for and with the people.
Why did you choose Kenya for the campaign?
Everyone knows the negative aspects of tribalism, we could learn from the Rwandan Genocide and the post election violence in Kenya. The reason why we focused on Kenya for this campaign was what happened during the last general election of 2007, because Kenya is the heart of Africa. If anything happened to Kenya the whole of East and Central Africa is paralysed. Kenya is the biggest economy in the Horn of Africa region, it is a hub and haven to so many diverse nationalities. Its is home to so many refugees: Sudanese, Ethiopians, Somali, Rwandese, Eritreans and people from as far as Europe, even UNEP has its headquarters here in Nairobi. So if anything happened in Kenya, its like you have removed the only light, the only source of hope in this side of Africa. The Sudan and Somali peace treaties were a result of, directly or indirectly, Kenya. Kenya has one of the strongest economies in sub-Sahara Africa, most hard working people and proper working systems are in this side of the continent.
When asked on where as a country – or the whole continent even – we went wrong, EJ had this to say:
The root of it all is corrupt leadership. We are all so corrupt that when a good leader rises up, we are quick to shut him up. I even think that when a leader is corrupt we hail him as a good leader. When leaders are put to power in Africa, it is unfortunate that some view this as an “investment” as an opportunity to enrich themselves.
When asked on how this can be fixed, he said the following:
This can be fixed by educating people on things like: Who is a leader? What is a good leader supposed to do? Good leadership is what Africa needs. By good leadership I mean, proper management of the resources in a country with integrity, with transparency involving the private sector and the public.
The government is a manager, so if there is an open and transparent way in which resources are managed then I think Africa can advance. If the government doesn’t manage resources well, everyone is going to suffer. If the government manages the resources well, it means it will support important resources, say the education system, the economic system, these lead to development. This message targets the youth and we are asking them to start the positive change from their homes, from where they live.
We want to start from the lower. The leaders have to be groomed from a young age, so that when the right people come to lead the nations, they have a steady foundation. If you look at some countries in Europe, they do not have constitutions, but the culture that has been build over hundreds of years asks of its people to be responsible citizens. They are taught that each action will always have a consequence. The police, for example know that they have to work with integrity, the citizens know better than to act arrogantly or in a manner that will provoke the police… in a nut shell what I think is that good governance is the way forward for Africa.
I am fortunate to have a voice and I wish to use this opportunity to be a blessing to the people, to pass messages of hope through my actions.”
He further said that he is inspired by everyday people who have done something with their lives: If somebody has made it big, I am inspired by the journey, the story of how they made it big.
He finished the interview by saying:
If Africa is to change for the better, we Africans have to change it. Nobody is going to change Africa but us. We have to do it. Our friends will help us but they can only go this far, we have to go that extra mile on our own. Its like taking the horse to the river but you can not force it to drink. We have friends willing to help us but its up to us to want to be successful. We have to be responsible for our own success. Lets own our own development and our own success. Lets not just complain about bad leadership but rather lets do something about it.
The video for the Anti-tribalism song will be out in August. At the moment Emmanuel and Juliani are looking for funds to shoot the video. We also discussed the possibility of getting Anto’s Paragasha involved in the We Want Peace campaign. Juliani will perhaps appear at the next Paragasha event on 26 July; we hope this works out.
We will be featuring more of the above mentioned campaigns and initiatives very soon, so do stay tuned!
Emmanuel Jal and Juliani in the “We Want Peace” anti-Tribalism campaign 2011
Juliani – official website
Emmanuel Jal on Wikipedia
Emmanuel Jal on TED talks
Read the previous African Perspectives article on Emmanuel Jal’s campaigns