Launch of Somaliland Theatre for Peace project

November 12th, 2012 - IREX Europe and its partner organization KOW Media Foundation have launched their third partnership to promote peace and understanding in Somaliland.

In December 2012, the Geediga Nabada theatre troupe will go on tour performing before over 30,000 people in the 6 regions of Somaliland with two performances about peace and conflict resolution. After each performance, the audience will be invited to speak about challenges specific to their lives and area, encouraging dialogue and collective identification of solutions to incendiary issues such as tribalism, radicalisation, and community tensions. Since declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland has surprised the world as a fledgling democracy, holding peaceful elections and successfully integrating traditional Somali modes of governance into contemporary politics (the qabil – clan – system of governance). However, Somaliland and the region remain extremely vulnerable and outbreaks of violence along its border area are frequent. Tensions in particular between Puntland and Somaliland are high and disputes based on clan rivalry and scarce resources are a constant threat to stability. Local communities have few models for civic discourse and remain vulnerable to extremism and violence.

Steven Grihault, a director/actor with over 20 years of theatre experience, has worked with the troupe since 2011, helping them to integrate forum theatre (drama for conflict transformation) methodologies into their play structure. DCT methodology involves audience participation by giving the audience an opportunity to replace characters in the play. The audience member then has to offer a solution to the conflict situation in the play and act out his or her idea. The chance to intervene in the outcome of the play allows the audience to realise the role that individuals can play in successful resolution of conflict situations in their communities, whether as a friend, a mother, or a community member. It also allows the audience to become an active rather than passive participant in the shows, leading to a greater depth of discussion among audience members about current community issues.

Mr. Grihault travelled to Somaliland in early November 2012 to help shape the plays with the actors and improve facilitation skills of the troupe to lead discussions around the issues raised in the plays. Through the project, the theatre troupe has also integrated three new and young actors, as well as engaged the creative expertise of two locally renowned poets to write verses discussing the issues addressed in the theatre performances. Poetry plays a powerful role in Somali culture and is therefore being incorporated into our Forum theatre work.

The project is funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and runs until March 2013. To date our work in Somaliland has directly reached over 40,000 people in Somaliland with messages of peace since 2010 through local theatre forum theatre performances by the “Geediga Nabada”Peace Caravan.

To learn more about the project, please visit: Somaliland: Interactive Theatre for Peace

- To see a film about our work in Somaliland, visit Theatre for Peace in Somaliland Film

- To learn more about previous projects implemented by IREX Europe in partnership with KOW Media: Project 1 and Project 2.

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Geediga Nabada actors rehearsing

Theatre expert Steven Grihault watching the rehearsals

A new actor working with the scriptwriter in play development

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