The Drama Festival
Oct. 6, 2012
Kikopo pa Mon, the annual drama festival of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, took place yesterday under the hot Ugandan sun. A crew of industrious volunteers had been laboring for two days to get an open field adjacent to a school transformed into a performance space, complete with a covered stage and covered seating. Seven groups of women arrived shortly before noon to get set up to present dramas, dances and songs. The first group arrived in one of the long taxi-vans common in this country. As they poured out of the vehicle, they broke into spontaneous song and dance—their excitement was palpable.
This year’s theme was “The role of women in peace and development in northern Uganda.” In fact, the evening before, WGEF had sponsored a “social evening”, a sort of town hall meeting, to discuss the theme. Invited speakers and many women involved in the organization’s programs engaged in a lively dialogue about how women’s substantial efforts in the area of peace and development often go unappreciated in the region. Two women were given awards for their ongoing work helping women rebuild their lives following a brutal war that had ravaged their country for over 20 years to eventually embrace the hope of peacetime.
The women had been practicing for the following day’s festival for several weeks and were eager to share their work with their sisters. The first drama, which I was somehow able to follow despite being presented in Acholi, dealt with a married couple whose husband was having an extramarital affair. The husband would hop on his “motorcycle”, represented by a pair of handlebars, and zip around town to visit his girlfriend. The wife eventually discovers them together, she and her mate have a huge fight, and eventually the two of them get HIV testing. In these all-female productions, all the men are played adeptly by women.
The plays alternated with choral songs and tribal dances. The dances were breathtaking to watch, accompanied by drums and the bells tied around their ankles. One group held hatchets in what looked like a hunting ritual. Another dance, I was told, was to commemorate a funeral.
As is typical for this event, a large bunch of children gathered, entertained by the plays and delighted by the music. At one point a group of boys who were dancing on one side of the open performance space were rushed upon by the dancing women with hatchets. The boys ran off in what seemed like real fear.
Family planning services and HIV testing was offered in a neighboring school room. Women brought produce, beads and other crafts to sell. I saw one of the elected officials leaving with a pumpkin. Several local politicians were on hand to witness the event and share their thoughts on the theme at the end of the day.
The entire event lasted about five hours. Halfway through a hot lunch was served to everyone in attendance. It was an exciting and enlightening day for all. I wonder what next year’s theme will be?
To address the issue of inequality, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence, food security, land rights and other issues facing women in northern Uganda, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund hosts a drama festival, Kikopo Pa Mon. Women in our microfinance program create original plays highlighting their stories using music, drama, and dance.
The festival provides a stigma-free environment in which to talk about sensitive subject matters; promoted unity and team building; and offered women the opportunity to be creative and innovative and highlights the power of theatre.
By encouraging the idea of traditional music, dance, and drama in the local language, the culture of the area would be preserved, and the relevance of these issues to the community would be elevated. Due to the positive response and overwhelming success of the event, Women’s Global will host Kikopo Pa Mon annually.
October 6th we will host our 5th annual festival; this year's theme: The Role of Women in Peace building and Development in Northern Uganda.
Kikopo Pa Mon Gulu.....Creating a Voice for Women in Gulu
5th Annual, September, 2012, Gulu, Uganda
To address the issue of gender inequality, violence, land rights, food security, HIV/AIDS and other issues facing women in northern Uganda, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund and Vac Net created and hosted a drama festival, Kikopo Pa Mon. Women in our Credit Plus program create original plays highlighting their stories using music, drama, and dance.
Performances focus on the issues of inequality, education inequity, HIV and violence. Last year the topic, chosen by participants, was land rights and property ownership. Women used the unique opportunity as a vehicle to directly speak to men and community leaders who were in attendance. Because the issues addressed are sensitive and can be difficult to discuss directly, using music, dance and drama offers a different way to communicate and providesmany other benefits, including maintaining and celebrating cultural traditions.
The competition provided a stigma-free environment in which to talk about sensitive subject matters; promoted unity and team building; and offered women the opportunity to be creative and innovative. The feedback for the event was overwhelmingly positive and created an excitement for Women’s Global and VacNet in thecommunity.
By encouraging the idea of traditional music, dance, and drama in the local language, the culture of the area would be preserved, and the relevance of these issues to the community would be elevated. Due tothe positive response and overwhelming success of the event, Women’s Global and VacNet will continue to host Kikopo Pa Mon annually.
In September, 2012, our 5th annual drama festival will be held. This is a vital program, enabling women to shift existing paradigms and conversations to challenge entrenched patriarchal notions and requiring their communities and leaders to listen and act. Please support this important and unique program.
To address the issue of gender inequality, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence, food security and other issues facing women in northern Uganda, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund hosts a drama competition, Kikopo Pa Mon. Women in our microfinance program create original plays highlighting their stories using music, drama, and dance. September 2011, WGEF hosted our 4th annual drama event in Gulu, Uganda. The focus this year was land rights and property ownership for women.
Over 150 women participated, presenting dramas, songs, dances, poetry to the community, highlighting the inequity in women's access to land rights and ownership. Hundreds of community members, tribal and political leaders attended creating the opportunity for dialogue and conversation regarding the critical issue of land rights. Although women provide 80-90% of food production and labour, they are excluded from land ownership and property rights, creating food and human insecurity, gender based discrimination and marginalization.
This critical issue of land rights was the perfect subject for the drama event, elevating the issue to the community and regional level and providing a stigma free environment and an effective vehicle to address the challenges. We are now planning for further community forums to continue the dialogue and looking forward to our 5th annual drama event in 2012.
Please enjoy the photos and video clips from Kiko Po Pa Mon!
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