August 22, 2019
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South Sudan laughs its way to peace

By Atem Simon Mabior

Juba, Jul 18 (efe-epa).- A comedy group has been employing humor as a means to achieving peace in war-torn South Sudan.

A group of five comedians from the "Kilkilu Ana group" every week mixes laughs with social issues such as corruption, nepotism, traffic police, tribal customs and almost everything that discusses locals' suffering in the absence of peace and stability.

About 1,000 people from across the newly independent country head to Nyakuron Cultural Center in central Juba - South Sudan's capital since the nation's independence in 2011 - each Thursday to attend the weekly performance that costs 200 South Sudanese pounds (less than $1).

The show is also broadcast on Radio Bakhita owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, and the United Nations' Radio Miraya.

The public television airs the performance for the group's fans, inside and outside the country.

Comedians started Kilkilu Ana in 2014, a few months after the country descended into civil war, intending to reflect on peace and social coexistence through comedy.

The group's members use their motto "Love, Learn and Live" as they seek to make life easier for the South Sudanese, who had been mired in a conflict that left tens of thousands of people dead between December 2013 and September 2018 when a fragile peace accord was penned.

Kilkilu Ana's co-founder Dhieu Lual Aken told Efe that the purpose behind creating the group was to spread love among South Sudanese and share values like education and respect for life.

"The now five-year-old group has been able to contribute to the promotion of a culture of peace and coexistence, and the renunciation of war and hate speech," Aken said.

"It has led to a real change in the lives of those who watch our performances," he added.

Kilkilu Ana has taken part in national campaigns of solidarity with war victims, made donations for the displaced and the disabled and participated in the UN-organized events in the civil protection camps in Juba.

Another co-founder, Isac Lumuri, stressed: "Comedy is a common factor for all spectrums of life in South Sudan."

"The messages we deliver reinforce peace and unity among the new generations of people who are keen to attend all our performances," Lumuri added.

These messages have a real impact on people's lives, according to the comedians.

Their jokes criticizing the youth gangs, known as nigga, have helped reduce crime in South Sudan.

Comedians also address issues like marriage of minors with jokes about parents that force their daughter to marry an army leader in exchange for money and cows.

Martim Mayom, a 28-year-old fan, said that Kilkilu Ana's performances made him realize the dangers of child marriage and depriving girls of education.

"I recently stood up to my father and mother for wanting to marry my sister, who is studying in secondary school, to an older man because of his money," Mayom explained.

"I convinced my father to let my sister continue her education and that I would take full responsibility for paying the school fees until her graduation from college," he continued.

The group is aware that it has changed lives of many people that attend their show.

A 25-year-old fan, Viola Darios, said the group spreads "positive messages in a comical and interesting context."

"It is the only entertaining show in the city," Darious added.EFE-EPA

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