Somaliland: Interactive Theatre for Peace

Overview

Building upon IREX Europe’s two successful theatre for peace projects in Somaliland, IREX Europe will continue work with its Hargeisa-based partner Kow Media Corporation to promote peaceful dialogue on community issues. The project, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, targets 48 Somali communities in the 6 regions of Somaliland utilising Drama for Conflict Transformation methodologies. This innovative methodology, which combines theatre, debate, poetry, and reflection, creates a ‘safe space’ for exploring incendiary issues such as tribalism, radicalisation, community tensions and other drivers of conflict. IREX Europe and its partners have successfully implemented the methodology with Somali communities in Kenya, in Indonesia and in Central Asia.

Background

Since declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland has surprised the world as a fledgeling democracy, holding peaceful elections and successfully integrating traditional Somali modes of governance into contemporary politics. However, Somaliland remains vulnerable to extremism and violence due to regional instability, including ongoing tensions between Puntland and Somaliland, which have escalated into violence several times. Within this climate, communities have had few models for civil discourse and little opportunity for constructive debate of political issues. As a result, street protests and violence are too often the way in which people attempt to resolve political and social issues. As Somalis become increasingly disenfranchised and frustrated, extremist voices can appear an increasingly attractive alternative to democracy. This project will build upon Kow Media’s work through its “Geediga Nabada” Peace Caravan team of trained theatre practitioners and successful IREX Europe/Kow Media collaboration through the Theatre to Promote Peace and Understanding Project, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Project Activities

The project will increase the impact of the Geediga Nabada theatre throupe through capacity building in the use of structured dialgoue and interactive theatre techniques. This will include longer terms contracting, theatre troupe management capacity building, and integrating script writing into the theatre group repetoire. In addition, ast least 2 new young actors will be recruited to thte troupe to add sustainability and flexibility to the troupe.

IREX Europe and Kow Media will organise a travelling theatre caravan to offer shows in six regions of Somaliland targeting up to 30,000 people. Following each performance, members of the theatre troupe with training in facilitating discussion sessions will encourage dialogue amongst the community members present to promote critical thinking and challenge entrenched views. Community members will be invited to speak about challenges specific to their lives and areas, encouraging dialogue and the collective identification of solutions. During these discussion sessions, facilitators also will encourage viewers to create their own poetical verses discussing the issues addressed in the theatre performances. This is especially relevant in Somaliland, where poetry is an important component of cultural expression.

- To see a film about our work in Somaliland, you can watch the YouTube video on the right or visit Theatre for Peace in Somaliland Film

- Other IREX Europe Drama for Conflict Transformation programmes: Indonesia : Promoting Tolerance and Dialogue through Interactive Theatre in Eastern Indonesia

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



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