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students at Liberty FM in Yei for one of our debate sessions- topic was tribalism causes more damage than development in African countries.
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Colin with students from Nile HS who participate in our radio debate program.

 

Today I attended a drama presentation performed by local youth in the region. In fact, multiple dramas have been presented in the last two days as a part of the 2009 “Drama Festival” in Yei. I felt like a proud stage mom watching our Africa ELI-sponsored students show their thespian talents.

The theme of the drama festival was “Let Us Build a Democratic Nation through Peaceful Elections.” With national elections coming up in Sudan, the topic was quite timely.

In the play I watched, student actors educated the audience about the importance of being involved in civil society. Instructions about voting were given. The importance of obtaining a national identity card was stressed. Educating yourself about the candidates and their qualifications was demonstrated. Influence of the media, bribery, and election violence instigated by police brutality were also acted out. Advice was given: “Vote wisely. This is your chance to select the right leader.”

A mock election, with a big ballot box and and ink for thumbprints, was staged. Student actors portrayed all members of society lining up to vote. There were women and men, young and old, veterans, villagers, crippled people, expectant mothers, and all tribes represented. On this stage of theatrics, even a drunkard showed up at the ballot box to cast his vote. He offered a bit of comic relief for the playhouse.

Following the mock election, the votes were counted openly and a winner was announced. The “new President” gave an acceptance speech. In another comedic gesture, his first cabinet appointment was given to the losing candidate – “the Minister of Crime and Punishment.”

As a part of the President’s inauguration, a prayer was given by a female priest. In his inaugural speech, the President placed his hand on a Bible and said, “I want to execute my duties without fear in service to my people.”

I am no Roger Ebert, but I give this show an enthusiastic ink-stained thumbs up! Hats off to the creative young people for taking the lead role in educating a new generation of voters in an emerging civil society. I can hardly wait for the results.

 

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