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Art to fight radicalisation in Lamu

Theatre, poetry, dance to involve youngsters

06-02-2022 by redazione

Art as a way to fight radicalization, in the Kenyan cradle of Islam.
The new wave of terrorist attacks in the regions bordering Somalia and the negative effects on the economy of the Lamu archipelago, which for the most part means tourism, is a worrying factor, also because unease and rebellion are growing among the young, with little trust in the institutions to make them shine with unhealthy ideas, perhaps fomented by local "bad teachers".
For this reason, Al Shabaab's agents in Kenya know that they can draw from the new generations and recruit soldiers for their crusade, which by now has only the appearance of religion, but is an economic war of those who want a slice of the cake that others in the corridor that runs from the port of Lamu to Ethiopia and along the border with Somalia are already dividing up. Pipelines, highways in addition to maritime boundaries.
So a group of more than one hundred artists, called "Lamu Arts Theatre Alliance" (LATA) through teaching and sharing of various artistic disciplines, in addition to drug abuse, child prostitution and other drifts of the young people of the island, try to fight radicalization and Islamic extremism that often results in violent acts and culture of hatred.
They are poets, actors, dancers, singers, painters and sculptors, creative people of all kinds who bring to the group a message of peace and sharing, regardless of religion or origin in a country where tribalism is still very deep-rooted.
Great importance in LATA is given to popular literature, which in Lamu is already celebrated with readings and rhyming poetry competitions during the famous annual culture festival.
For the very young, in addition to poetry and oral prose, the attraction is games, acrobat shows and songs that go from tradition to more modern sounds.
The themes often lead back to the demonization of drugs and the culture of mixing peoples and religions.
"Our target audience is mainly young people who are negatively affected by radicalization and drug abuse," explained LATA's president, Said Hassan, "We formulate our songs and dances with carefully crafted messages to entertain, educate and deter.
Another important innovation, the group is made up of a third of women and thanks to them it has been able to reach young people who often listen more to the wisdom of their mothers, with whom they spend more time at home. But LATA has been able at the same time to engage government officials, political and religious leaders, as well as other associations and representatives of local communities to bring a positive message.
"Our shows mostly carry messages against terrorism, talk about drugs and other social issues such as early pregnancies, female genital mutilation and so on," Hassan added, "We are honoring our mandate to the fullest and are proud to be able to show the progress we have made," he said.
It is not difficult to get in touch with LATA, whose headquarters is in the center of the old town of Lamu and is now known by all as a happy island of creativity and hope.

TAGS: lamu kenyaarte kenyatradizioni kenyaislam kenya

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