Follow our journey as Artistic Associates Amy Miller, Brandon Welch, and Nigel Campbell return to Tanzania to be a part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, in partnership with EngenderHealth, MUDA Africa and the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam!
We are grinning from ear to ear after two jam-packed days in Iringa municipality partnering with EngenderHealth to facilitate four workshops at different locations all over the city. Reaching nearly 200 community members, we were blown away by the level of engagement and curiosity from these young people. MUDA Africa artists performed the Hands are for Holding dances with such sincerity and professionalism, and Nigel, Brandon, and Amy, along with the help of MUDA Artistic Director Ian Mwaisunga facilitated conversations about voice, choice, and possibility. We connected with Marissa Maurer from the US Embassy who traveled to Iringa and attended our first two workshops as well as had a chance to meet the tenacious Joan Mayer from USAID.
We got to our third workshop a little early to find most of the participants already there and waiting. As we started to warm up in the space, several male audience members spontaneously came over to us and started showing off some fantastic breakdance moves, spinning on their heads; handstands that somehow jump; and flips, flips, flips! With the music blasting, the circle dance took hold. One by one, male locals from Iringa, and male MUDA dancers from Dar es Salaam joined in this impromptu 10am party. Then, one of the female MUDA dancers Irene took a try! Amy jumped in there pulling out all the stops with every over the top move that she could muster. Then another female MUDA dancer Pili joined in the circle with her famous split, split, split to cheers from the audience and Brandon brought his ridiculous aerial training into the mix. We had established an inclusive environment where everyone had a voice – not just the head-spinning local men, but everyone.
“Men and women from Iringa, Dar and NYC were sharing space with a sense of equality with an electricity in the air that had the whole room buzzing. I’m proud of the MUDA women for stepping in there, for showcasing their talents, for joining in the conversation.” – Amy Miller
When we started the workshop, Amy began with these words:
“We believe that everyone has a voice
We believe that everyone’s voice needs to be heard
We know that when those voices come together, we are indeed able to start to make change in our world”
When we opened up the discussion after the first ‘Hands’ dance, this was the only workshop out of the four that a women spoke first.
Participants reading others’ responses (Model Your Actions Take Care Cards in hand translated into Swahili)
Following our workshops, participants are asked by our partner EngenderHealth to write down an action they will take to prevent or speak out against violence. These responses are collected and shared at the following workshop with participants from different areas in Iringa. Exchanging ideas and making a collaboratively created mural proclaiming ways to move forward!
Photos courtesy of Amy Miller, Brandon Welch, and Nigel Campbell.