In November 2016 the IPOW team accompanied by cultural producers and music producers from Kenya, UK and Germany went on a ten day visit to four different grassroots, unfunded cultural organisations in four cities across Uganda. We took the amazing Castro (UK), SYMBIZ (Germany) Baby N’Sola (UK/DRC)and Ble3azy (UK) to collaborate with young artists from across Uganda and produce a new album. The aim of the trip was for IPOW to build a picture of how we can support grassroots creative organisations, along with documenting existing creative work through film and the making of a new collaborative album.
Starting in Jinja, IPOW visited the work of The Bavubuka (Youth) Allstarz Foundation. The Bavubuka (Youth) Allstarz Foundation is a non-profit organisation that believes connecting youth with music and the arts can transform lives and unify diverse communities. They explore the transformative power within reconnecting growing hip-hop communities to their indigenous expression at the source of the River Nile; work with fashion, photography, music forums and workshops. We witnessed hip-hop cyphers in Jinja and then made a collaboration with local and international artists in a small studio space. In Kampala, we visited Dynasty, a space owned by Bavubuka for hip-hop artists to create and work together.
We also went to visit the work of Brenda Nalule in Kampala. In Place of War first met Brenda in Kampala, Uganda in 2015 when she was a participant in IPOW’s creative entrepreneurial training. Brenda has an organisation called ‘Mpenjja Vulnerable Children and Single Mothers’ where she trains women in crafts, making, design, fashion, permaculture and shoemaking. She said that the Creative Entrepreneurial Programme gave her hope and the skills and ideas to continue to build her organisation. IPOW is supporting Brenda with equipment and training four women from Mpenjja to be trainers of the Creative Entrepreneurial Programme.
In Kitgum, we visited the work of MC Benny. MC Benny is a farmer and beekeeper in Northern Uganda. From the profits he makes from his agricultural business, he and his hip hop crew deliver hip hop workshops in prisons as part of the prisoners’ rehabilitation. He is completely unfunded and works with 6,000 young people each year. In Place of War started to work with Benny when he attended the creative entrepreneur programme training in 2015. Since then In Place of War have collaborated with Benny through a collaborative album, capacity enhancement through mentoring of proposal writing and the donation of music studio equipment. There are also plans to deliver the creative entrepreneur training in the prison and to donate more equipment to Benny enhance his current work.
We then visited the work of Benson Wereje, who runs CIYOTA: Supporting Congolese refugees through artistic training in Uganda (Hoima): Benson Wereje is a Congolese refugee who fled eastern Congo as a teenager after his village was attacked during the Congolese War. He now lives in the Kyangwali refugee camp in Uganda. Having the opportunity to do theatre in the refugee camp inspired him to set up New Hope, an applied theatre company. The aim of New Hope is deal with specific issues facing refugees and survivors of the conflict. He has also set up cultural space which provides artistic education and training to refugees. Benson’s latest project is the construction of a cultural and education centre for refugees. With no resources, Benson relies on private donations from individuals and the local community, volunteers and the proceeds from the sale of books to fund this project.
The trip to Uganda was an incredible learning experience, for the IPOW team to understand the challenges and opportunities for organisations working to make change in their communities. This consolation has led IPOW to hold a large training event of our Creative Entrepreneurial Programme in Jinja, Uganda to train trainers from across Africa in May 2017. IPOW will also donate forty music studios to the four organisations worked with in the visit and provide bespoke organisational development support.
An album was also recorded. Watch this space for its release early in 2017.