The new Sub-Saharan step for “Refugees on the Move,” beginning in Chad and the Central African Republic, is now in Burundi. African Artists for Development – helped by its local partners – has just set up a new edition of its program to fight violence, monotony, and harshness in refugee camps by organizing dance workshops.
It is in the Bwagiriza camp, in the east of the country, that the workshops began at the end of November. To kick off the first official engagement of AAD in Burundi Gervanne Leridon and Jean-Michel Champault, AAD co-president and general delegate respectively, traveled there to meet local partners and instructors and to convey the characteristics of their approach linking contemporary art and local development initiative.
Activities then began. Led by Burundian choreographer Ciza MUHIRWA – accompanied by his team of instructors and percussionists – the workshops were spread over a period of one month, six hours per day, introducing refugees to basic hip-hop and traditional dance.
In another remarkable event, refugees from Bwagiriza also had the chance to see and visit with the renowned Burkinabe choreographer Salia SANOU. Sanou had come to train for the “Refugees in the Move” program for replication in Burkina Faso. Equally on this occasion, the refugees were gratified with several master classes, participating fully in this “progress partnership” at the heart of the project.
As a last highlight punctuating a successful first session and unanimously welcomed by local partners – first and foremost the ONPRA, the IRC, and the UNHCR – was the farewell to Nelson Mandela who had seen all refugees gather to honor the memory of a man of peace, vision, and reconciliation in Africa.