Music as an Antidote to African Violence
Andrea Nix Fine '91 speaks to a class.
Oscar nominee Andrea Nix Fine '91 and internationally renowned rapper Emmanuel Jal, a former Sudanese child soldier, came to Colby on the weekend of April 1 to raise awareness about conflict in Africa and to celebrate the power of music to bring about peace.
Nix Fine came back to Colby for the first time since she graduated to talk about her award-winning documentary War/Dance, made with her husband, Sean Fine, in 2007. The film follows three children from Patongo, a refugee camp school located in the war zone of northern Uganda, through a music competition. “It's a story about the power of music to overcome great trauma; it's about being resilient when all odds are against you. And, for us, it was about the beauty of these kids,” said Nix Fine. “They're much more than a stat of how many child soldiers were taken or not.” Her film continues to spread awareness about one of the longest-running conflicts in Africa.
“War/Dance is an amazing film,” said Jal. “It shows how the young people want to express their pain and talent through music.” The rapper and former child soldier relaxed and hydrated in Colby's green room after performing for an enthusiastic crowd in Page Commons. Like Nix Fine, he believes that music is therapy. It's a way for him to communicate the immense trauma of his childhood: “It's easy to tell a
Emmanuel Jal performs in Page Commons
story through music because music is less painful. … It gives you hope,” said Jal. “Music is the only thing that touches your mind, your heart, your soul, and your spirit, without you even knowing, and it can influence you without your permission.”
Jal is known for his worldwide campaign for peace as well as for his music. “I believe in young people, that they have the power to correct the mistakes of the past, but, at the same time, to change the direction of the future,” Jal said. “There's hope for the future if the young people take a stand."