The word Anataban comes from the Arabian language and means” I´m tired”. The artist collective Anataban is stationed in Juba, the biggest town in South Sudan.
It started on September first in 2016. Anataban uses street art, graffiti, sculptures, street theatre and poetry to create a public and open discussion on social injustices, government responsibility and openness. The members in the collective sees non-violence, solidarity, courage and political neutrality as the most important parts of their work.
Marked by the civil war
South Sudan has about 13 million inhabitants where most live under extremely difficult conditions. Between 2013 and 2015 there were a civil war between the two biggest ethnic groups, Dinka and Nuer, in the country. The country lacks almost all modern infrastructure. The civil war was characterized by armed force and sexual violence, mostly on women. This conflict affected the production of groceries in the country which led to people starving.
Artists against war and misery
In September 2016 the Anataban Campaign was founded by a group of visual artists, poets, actors and musicians in the country. They started this group as an answer to the horrific civil war that affected the people a lot. The campaign grew and after a workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya with a group calling themselves Pawa 254. Pawa 254 is a Nairobi-based platform for activists, journalists and artists of different kinds. The word Anataban “I´m Tired” symbolises the feelings for violence and misery of the members. The British newspaper The Guardian did an interview with members from Anataban and there you can read about their tiredness for war and the misery that comes with it. They are tired of just sitting around watching their country going to pieces. They are tired of living in a country with great natural resources going to waste because of a demolished economy. They are tired of having a cultural diversity ruined by hostility between tribes. They are tired of people being killed for the gain of a few individuals.
Cultural work for sustainable peace
On September 21st, the international day of peace, in 2016, Anataban went on the streets of Juba giving out white handkerchiefs saying, “we are sorry for what we have done to each other”. They talked to the people saying how sorry they are for everything the country has endured in the last years. In 2017 they launched the campaign #BloodShedFree2017, it aims for a permanent cease-fire in South Sudan. Their goal is to create a platform for the people of South Sudan where they can be heard. They also want to create and spread awareness on the struggle of the South Sudan people. Mainly their struggle in everyday life after the war. Anataban travels around with their shows, exhibitions and art to spread hope and their message through media.
Music and street art
Anataban have released two songs that has created a large impact on local radio stations. They reach social media with their music through Youtube and other channels. Their first song was called” Ana Taban” reflecting on the words I´m tired, and the second is called “Malesh” from the Arabian saying for I´m sorry. The visual artist of Anataban have painted their street art in many places in Juba. They show the frustration of the group and contains propaganda against the war. Some of the paintings shows how the people experience the war and are in some cases very vivid and nasty. On the other hand, there are pictures drawn giving hope for the future by giving people the strength to make a difference.