8.8 million youth 15 to 24 years are not studying nor employed or under any type of training, Uganda’s Youthful Population Quick Facts by United Nations Population Fund.
“I want to inspire and impact youth in a positive way, using what I know how to do,” Emmanuel Obua, musician and creator of Rhythms of Change.
Music is the language of the spirit – no matter what our background or nationality – so when we listen to a melody and our hearts understand the emotion it embodies, we experience happiness, melancholy or love, among other things. Music is a way to connect at a deeper level and much more. In fact, the German music genius Ludwig van Beethoven once said that “music can change the world”; something that Emmanuel Obua believes as well.
Emmanuel Obua, also known by the stage name of Tim Darsh, is a musical artist, producer, writer and video editor from Lira City, Northern Uganda. He studied Social Work and Social Administration at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. While growing up, he witnessed first hand the challenges and obstacles that many young people face in his hometown, Lira City, including poverty, limited education and social exclusion.
“The main problem that I see in Lira City is the lack of opportunities for the youth,” explains Emmanuel. “Youth is the majority of the population in Uganda but the opportunities are very little, especially when you come from places like these: underprivileged and marginalized; then your chances are very slim to actually make it in life. That is why a lot of these youth end up being stray and with drug abuse problems, a lot of crime rates go high because young people do not have anything to focus on, some of them are desensitized. They end up doing illegal stuff trying to survive just because they didn’t have any opportunities, not even to go to school.”
Facts About Youth in Uganda
Uganda is a country with a high percentage of young people. According to Uganda’s Youthful Population Quick Facts by United Nations Population Fund, 34.8% of the 34.6 million people in Uganda are adolescents and every year 1.2 million new Ugandans are born, yet their everyday life is not always easy.
The organization notes that 10% of children 9-12 have never been to school, 22% of adolescents 13 to 18 drop out of school and 8.8 million youth 15 to 24 are not studying nor employed or under any type of training. Furthermore, by the age 15 to 19, 1 in every 4 teenage girls are pregnant or have been mothers and every year 9,600 teens ages 15 to 19 become infected with HIV.
Music as a Tool for Social Justice
Music has always been a very important part of Emmanuel´s life. He is a hip hop artist, producer, writer and video editor who has collaborated with many other artists and community organizations to create music and events that promote social justice, youth empowerment and community development.
“My interest in music started way back when I was a child, when I was about 8 or 9 years old,” recalls Emmanuel. “I started writing and recording after I finished college. I started recording professionally and doing professional performances, really evolving into a mature musical artist. After that I thought that maybe I could impact the youth in a positive way using what I know how to do.”
Emmanuel has released two Hip Hop albums, “Lyet” and “A Mobb Quiet Storm.” which have earned him three nominations at the Uganda Hip Hop Awards. He has also been involved in mentoring and coaching young artists, helping them to develop their skills and find their own voice in the music industry.
“My work is not just about making music, but about using my platform to make a positive impact in the lives of others. I am deeply committed to creating a better future for the youth of Lira City and beyond, and I believe that music can be a powerful tool for social change,” says Emmanuel.
Rhythms of Change
Emmanuel recognizes the impact that music and artists have on the youth and the social responsibility that accompanies it. That is why he decided to take the opportunity to connect with the young people from Lira City, hoping to make positive changes by inspiring them.
“Some of the youth will actually take advice more from the music rather than from their parents. A lot of these youth look up to us – the artists – as role models. When we speak, they tend to listen to us more than anyone. Music is very impactful in changing for the youth,” explains Emmanuel.
Therefore, Emmanuel created Rhythms of Change, a project that consists of a series of workshops and performances that will be held in schools, community centers, and other public spaces throughout Lira City. Emmanuel and other local artists will conduct the workshops that will cover a range of topics related to hip hop music, including music production, lyric writing, performance skills, and the role of music in social change. The public performances will provide young people with an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents and connect with others in the community; they will be held in a variety of settings, including music festivals, cultural events, and community gatherings.
“In Rhythms of Change we aim to use music as a tool for empowerment and social change,” says Emmanuel. “I can see a lot of potential in the youth from Lira City, but a lot of them don’t have the opportunity to get training like I did. Others look at the people who live in this area like they don’t have any value, society pushes them aside and forgets them. So I saw this as an opportunity to use what I know to give back to my people.”
Reaching Out to The Pollination Project
To make this project possible, Emmanuel searched for the funds needed for instruments, venues and advertisement. That is when he came across The Pollination Project.
“I heard about The Pollination Project from a friend of mine,” remembers Emmauel. “He told me I should check it out. So I went to the website and I was amazed reading stories from other changemakers. When I knew I was going to receive the grant I was so, so happy, overjoyed! This is like you believe in what I am doing. I am delighted. I want to thank you, this fund is a blessing.”
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