JIBILIKA Dance Trust in partnership with the United States Embassy’s Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) have launched a youth HIV and Aids hip-hop dance awareness initiative titled Step Up 2 HIV, which is currently riding on popular culture.
The initiative is a dance and music project that engages young people in promoting an HIV and Aids-free generation, using popular youth culture as a medium to “step up” the fight against HIV and Aids.
“If children are getting an education from popular culture, why not use that popular culture to teach them,” said Jibilika projects director Plot Mhako.
He said through this initiative, young people were equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and tools that enabled them to live positively, become Aids activists and peer educators in their homes, schools, and communities.
Mhako said it was acknowledged that popular culture had enormous power and influence on young people and society in general and hip-hop culture has evolved into a powerful phenomenon that could be convincingly argued to be the leading force within youth popular culture worldwide.
“In Zimbabwe, this culture represents a powerful movement with a new vibrancy and energy externally manifest through clothing, art, attitude, style, music, films and language so the project will mobilise and engage young people through popular youth music and dance in HIV prevention, sexual reproductive health and advocacy campaigns in schools and communities,” he said.
Mhako said Step Up 2 HIV would employ methods that young people could relate to, to ensure the message goes wide and far and the project was set to tap into the ever growing power of social media and most importantly dance and music as peer educational tools.
The first phase of the programme ran at last year’s edition of Jibilika Dance Festival themed Step Up 2 HIV to mark World Aids Day where 30 dance groups performed HIV-themed dance pieces.
“The response was overwhelming, leading to the adoption of the concept as a programme on its own, then the launch of the second phase in July at the College Of Music by US Embassy acting public affairs officer, Jillian Bonnardeaux,” said Mhako.