Jibilika Dance Trust has launched an exciting new dance project to engage youth on how to deal with HIV/AIDS related issues. ‘Step Up to HIV’ has been created in partnership with the US Embassy’s Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Jibilika will be working with various schools and communities in Harare.
Director of Jibilika, Plot Mhako explained the concept: “We are using the energy and power of popular youth culture to bring about social transformation and development. Through this initiative, young people are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and tools that will enable them to become social development agents and successful citizens.”
To start with, Jibilika will be targeting both the High Glen area, which encompasses Glen Norah, Glenview, Budiriro, Kuwadzana and Mufakose, and the Mbare area covering Waterfalls, Ardbennie, Mbare and Southerton.
“We will be working with at least 20 schools, including Glen Norah High 1 and 2, Glen View High 1 and 2, St Peter’s Kubatana, Morgan High and Harare High. Next year we will be stretching to other areas to bring our message to the entire city and its surrounding areas,” said Mhako.
The messages of abstinence, staying faithful, the dangers of early sexual activity and of having multiple partners will be spread through a collaboration of music and dance in the genres of hip hop and dancehall reggae.
These are common messages but will be delivered in a way that will appeal to their targeted audience.
“Young people are not taking HIV messages seriously or the messages are not getting through to them. This is probably because the message has not been designed in a way that makes it interesting. ‘Step Up To HIV’ is enticing young people to listen and engage them in dialogue on HIV/AIDS issues,” Mhako said.
Hip hop culture has grown to represent a powerful movement with a new vibrancy and energy externally manifested through clothing, art, attitude, style, music, films and language across Harare and the nation at large.
‘Step Up To HIV’, which is funded by PEPFAR, will have a monthly cipher session where young people come together to present different dance pieces carrying HIV/AIDS messages. Outstanding groups will get prizes.
“We will be rotating from one community to the other starting off with the College of Music in the city centre on the first Saturday in July,” said Mhako.
Prominent artists have joined the project including runner up of last year’s Shoko Festival International Poetry Slam Arnold ‘So Profound’ Chimirika.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, PEPFAR has pledged $95m towards the national response to HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe for 2013.