December 21, 2010

AGYA Co-Founders Visit Breakdance Project Uganda in Gulu

On December 10th, AGYA Co-Founders Divinity and Abraham Matovu set off for a 3-day trip to Gulu, a city in Northern Uganda that borders Southern Sudan. Despite the rich history and culture of the Acoli people who make up the majority of the population, Gulu is most well-known as the site of a civil war between the Ugandan National Government and the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.). For more than two decades, the LRA, a rebel group, terrorized the citizens of Gulu Town and surrounding villages. Although Northern Uganda is now stable and the fighting has ceased, the prolonged civil war divided families, displaced millions and led to the abduction and mutilation of tens of thousands of children which resulted in the deterioration of identity and culture.

 When Divinity and Abraham received an invitation from Abramz Tekya, the Co-Founder of AGYA’s partner organization, Breakdance Project Uganda, they immediately accepted. Upon arriving in Gulu, Abraham was shocked to see that buildings and infrastructure were intact. Reflecting on his reaction, Abraham said:
“I have lived in Uganda all my life. I always wanted to come to Gulu, but I was afraid. Some non-profits make it seem like the war is still going on – that is simply not true. Because of what the media and some non-profits portray, I thought every kid I met would be a former child soldier and I expected to see demolished buildings and disfigured people everywhere I turned.

The reality is that the situation in Gulu is nowhere near as miserable and hopeless as the media makes it seem. Yes, there has been war and devastation, but people in these communities are living their lives like regular human beings. A significant amount of people are no longer living in refugee or IDP camps. Children are going back to school, and families are returning to their villages, their businesses, and rebuilding their lives.”

Although Divinity and Abraham were relieved to see the progress happening in Gulu, they also saw the dire need for arts-centered youth organizations like BPU to continue operating programs in the region. After observing the BPU workshops, Divinity said:

“BPU is doing an amazing job in both Kampala and Gulu. While there has been an influx of non-profits operating in Gulu within the last 10 years, many of them are completely out of touch with what the local people want and need. BPU is one of the few organizations in Gulu that is making a real, tangible impact using art, breakdancing and hip-hop culture to effect positive social change. Their free dance workshops empower, rehabilitate, and heal children who have been victims of the war in Northern Uganda. I am so honored to be partnering with BPU, and I am confident that AGYA can begin the process of expanding our programming to offer services to the youth population in Northern Uganda.”

About Breakdance Project Uganda: BPU is committed to empowering street kids, formerly abducted child soldiers and other disadvantaged children throughout Uganda using hip-hop and breakdance. Abramz Tekya is the subject of “Bouncing Cats,” an inspiring documentary that explores Tekya’s life experiences which inspired him to start BPU. Check out the trailer here!

Visit: to find out how you can support BPU and learn about upcoming "Bouncing Cats" screenings in your area!

Here are some pictures from the Gulu trip!