Tired of war, South Sudanese youth turn to art to push for peace

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Sundanese children turn to art amid war
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Sundanese children turn to art amid war
Thomas Dai, 33, a cartoonist, painter and member of Ana Taban, hugs his daughter Nyamai at his home in Juba, South Sudan, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Members of Ana Taban rest on top of the mountain, with a friend, during a hike on Jebel Kujur (Mountain Black Magic), in Juba, South Sudan, April 22, 2017. A woman from the area who climbed the mountain, prays on her knees. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Jalpan Bol, a student, painter and member of Ana Taban poses for a photograph in his compound, in Juba, South Sudan, April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Manasseh Mathiang, 33, a musician, artivist, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph in Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 17, 2017. Mathiang was born in Khartoum, Sudan and lived in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1991. He returned to South Sudan in 2011, when he was part of civil society groups who were mobilising South Sudanese to register and vote in the referendum. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Yousif Mohammed Haroun (stage name Asif Kafi), 30, a rap musician, actor, poet, and member of Ana Taban is seen at his home studio during a recording session in Nairobi, Kenya, February 16, 2017. Haroun was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Kenya and studied in Uganda and Sudan. He returned to Juba in 2011. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Meen Mabior Meen, (stage name Menimen), 30, a rap musician and a founding member of Ana Taban, sits next to the crib of his new born child, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. Meen started singing in 2000, in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, together with his cousin Juk Mayiik, who was killed during the fighting in July 2016 in Juba. He returned to South Sudan in 2007. He sees Ana Taban as a platform for youth to be able to address issues that can change South Sudan. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Yousif Mohammed Haroun (stage name Asif Kafi), 30, a rap musician, actor, poet and member of Ana Taban, records at a home studio in Nairobi, Kenya, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Abul Oyay, 30, a painter and a student in Peace and Conflict Studies at USIU in Nairobi, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a portrait in her home in Nairobi, Kenya, February 15, 2017. Ana Taban is a collective of creatives in South Sudan who use art to demand peace and justice in the country. Oyay was born in Gambella, Ethiopia, in 1986 and was raised in South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia. She went to university in the UK and Kenya. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Ayak Chol Deng, 31, an epidemiologist, spoken word poet, activist, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at her home in Juba, South Sudan, April 20, 2017. Deng was born in a refugee camp in Gambela, briefly lived in Cuba as a child, and then studied and lived in Kharoum, Sudan and Nairobi, Kenya. She is divorced and a mother of three. "I hope for better serviced institutions, better opportunities for youth, a country where I don't need to be from a specific tribe," said Deng. In one of her poems, she writes: "Heal this spirit that's broken, piece together pieces of me, my affiliation, or tongue, colour, politics, restore what?s human in me, peace, come find me, enrich this fist choking, un-taint my disputes, resonating, unhinge my words, elevating, unleash a conciliation, everlasting, peace, come find me." REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
People perform during an open mic event organised by Ana Taban at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Murals made by members of Ana Taban, are seen on walls in Juba, South Sudan, April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Murals made by members of Ana Taban, are seen on walls in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Members of Ana Taban rest on top of the mountain, with a friend, during a hike on Jebel Kujur (Mountain Black Magic), in Juba, South Sudan, April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Irene Lasu, 26, a spoken word poet and member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph in Juba, South Sudan, April 23rd, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Winnie Godi, 25, a designer and member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. Her last collection, which was presented at Nairobi International Fashion Festival, was called Anataban Collection. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Musician Vama Joseph Zaki performs during an open mic event organised by Ana Taban at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Winnie Godi, 25, a designer and member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at one of her favourite places, Jebel Lodge, in Juba, South Sudan, April 21, 2017. Her last collection, which was presented at Nairobi International Fashion Festival, was called Anataban Collection. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Youths attend an open mic event organised by Ana Taban at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Kenyi Lado, an artist, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, which is also his home, in Juba, South Sudan, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Murals made by members of Ana Taban, are seen on walls in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Dancers on stage at an open mic event organised by Ana Taban at Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Murals made by members of Ana Taban, are seen on walls in Juba, South Sudan, April 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
Jacob Bul Bior, 28, a radio and theatre actor, and a founding member of Ana Taban, poses for a photograph at the Aggrey Jaden Cultural Centre & Cinema, in Juba, South Sudan, April 19, 2017. Bior said: "We are focused on bringing the country together, bringing people together. We are neutral, we are non-partisan." Bior was born in South Sudan and left for Kakuma in Kenya, when he was four. He moved back to South Sudan in 2007, and studied at the University of Juba. Together with Woyee Film & Theatre, he made civic education films and theatre, showing people how to vote during the referendum. He worked in the data centre during the referendum in 2011. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 
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JUBA, July 12 (Reuters) - South Sudanese activists are using music, poetry, theater, comedy, dance and fashion to preach tolerance in the world's youngest nation which has been divided by years of civil war.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but descended into war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions often along ethnic lines.

Supporters on both sides, many of whom reside outside of the country due to the conflict, have taken the hostilities to the Internet, using Facebook and Twitter to take each other on with posts that are sometimes deemed hate speech.

Enter Ana Taban, which means "I'm tired" in Arabic, a group of young musicians, fashion designers and poets who are using art and culture to demand peace in their homeland.

"I hope for better serviced institutions, better opportunities for youth, a country where I don't need to be from a specific tribe," said Ayak Chol Deng, 31, an epidemiologist, spoken word poet and activist who co-founded the group about a year ago.

The group holds regular open-air performances around the capital Juba and in other towns to call for peace and to educate their fellow citizens on the need for a non-violent resolution of the conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Meen Mabior Meen, 30, a rap musician and founding member of Ana Taban, said it is a platform for the youth to tackle issues that can change the country. He spoke at his home in Juba, sitting next to the crib of his new-born child.

Such powerful aspirations are also attracting people outside of the country to the group, at #Anataban, in order to play their role in encouraging peace.

They include Abul Oyay, 30, a university student in neighboring Kenya.

Ana Taban's members do not limit themselves to theatrical performances. Bright murals with messages calling for peace, created by its members, can be seen on walls around Juba.

"We are focused on bringing the country together, bringing people together. We are neutral, we are non-partisan," said Jacob Bul Bior, 28, a radio and theater actor.

(Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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