The 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference
RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS: THE ROLE OF THE CREATIVE ARTS
Alt. Vice Chairperson
Transparency International Uganda
TOPIC: RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS: THE ROLE OF THE CREATIVE ARTS
THEME: BRINGING AWARENESS TO THE STREETS OF UGANDA.
In this presentation I will stress the following key subjects:-
- Creative arts
- Public awareness
- Streets of Uganda
However, before getting to this level allow me to give a brief and
simple background of the International Anti Corruption Theatrical
Movement (IATM) which I represent.
A. IATM BACKGROUND:
IATM is a Civil Society organisation, which has a vision of a strong
vibrant civil society for a moral and peaceful world.
The Mission is to build the capacities of individuals and theatre
organisations as change agents to articulate and implement their goals
for sustainable development.
IATM is the brainchild of a regional workshop on 'Corruption and its
Effects on Development' held at the Danish Training Centre for
Development Co-operation (MS-TCDC)in Arusha Tanzania over 1995. This
workshop which attracted leading NGO's from East and central Africa
came up with the Usar River communiqué: challenging the workshop
participants to develop strategies of implementing the anti-corruption
knowledge acquired as they went back to their respective counties.
The Ugandan participants included, among others, Elizabeth Nahamya, by
then chairperson Transparency Uganda, and Sulaiman Madada of Kigulu
Development Group. In our follow up meeting, we agreed on employing
drama as one of the main approaches in our anti-corruption crusade.
SAMAMU THEATRE GROUP was commissioned to produce a play and "the
impossible is possible" written by Madada was launched in March 1996
at the National Cultural Centre. After a number of shows in Uganda,
Samamu Group visited Arusha, Tanzania. This visit resulted into a
joint theatre programme between MS Ngoma Troupe (Tanzania) and Samamu
Following two exchange visits and a three-day workshop at MS-TCDC
Arusha, the International Anti Corruption Theatrical Movement was born
B. OUTSTANDING ACTIVITIES
So far, two Pan-African anti Corruption Festivals have been held in
Kampala Uganda (August, 17-23 1998) and in Maputo Mozambique (Aug 21-
The themes covered in both festivals were "Corruption your
Responsibility"(1998) and "Civil Society in Democratisation and
Development" (1999). In total, performing artists from 12 countries
in Africa alone and over 60 performing local groups have been involved
in these past two years in creating public awareness and bringing the
messages to the open streets!
C. OUR TASK!
By way of definition, Corruption will be the abuse of office for
private gains. A deviation from established standards and norms by
public officials and parties they deal with. Corruption has different
forms that include bribery, fraud, embezzlement of public funds and
other assets, legal use of assets for private gain over invoicing or
under-invoicing under payment / declaration of taxes and duties
'missing files' court decisions to award damage in excess, nepotism
ii. THE CREATIVE ARTS:
The creative arts include music, dance, drama, cartoons, mime. They
originate from the deeper insights of man about their society they
live in. Artistic creativity is means to finding ways of helping
people to create new and better ways of living and working together.
The arts are humanities and as such the most immediate recognisable
form of human creativity, that should be accorded recognition in all
our planning and action plans in the next millennium. If we are to
succeed we should look at artistic creativity as the basis for human
economic development. Anybody who is not artistic is lacking in the
essentials of humanity. That is why all people enjoy music, dance and
drama, pictures / photographs, well designed clothes which portray
peace, harmony, wealth, brotherhood, development etc.
The creative arts forms like riddles, storytelling, music, dance,
drama, mime, mimickey, cartoons, animations etc are simple to use,
easy to adopt, and on most occasions have the elements of association
with the group, class or peers in mind. They are normally
contextualised and universal in their knowledge this makes the arts
universally acceptable beyond barriers of language, culture and names!
iii. PUBLIC AWARENESS:
Human beings are the corner stone of any societal endeavours. To keep
the majority well informed and aware of their rights, obligations and
facts is a duty we in IATM have taken once to keep people informed in
this case about the existence and dangers of corruption. Beyond this
awareness, IATM believes in challenging the Civil Society into action
against corruption. Empowering the individuals in oppressed
communities to demand for their rights and to demand for
accountability from their leaders. IATM longs to create a strong and
vibrant civil society, geared at moral, well-governed and free corrupt
In this struggle, behavioural change is paramount. We put our efforts
into causing change in the apathetic behaviour of the oppressed masses
and the evil hearts of the powerful and wealthy who are enabled at the
iv. STREETS IN UGANDA.
Uganda, like most disadvantaged societies is populated by uninformed
masses in the streets. These include both highly educated and
uneducated people, as street children, hawkers, graduate job seekers,
sex workers, road side traders etc.
The majority of them are not so much aware about their human rights,
obligations of state to their welfare and their role as citizens. They
get involved in "Corruption for survival" but at their own expense
and loss. They are culprits of police, judiciary, and local
authorities who have squandered their welfare, rights and denied them
2. WHY A THEATRICAL APPROACH?
All the above mentioned have one important characteristic: they have
ears to listen and eyes that can see and lack the skills to read.
Theatre as a medium of communication has the following as advantages
and above all, the ability to instruct and delight!
- Theatre if well utilised is as entertaining as it is educative and
- A big percentage of our total population (African) are
illiterate and poor, thus the most appropriate way of reaching them is
through music, dance and oral means by direct performance, or
television and radio (if they have success).
- Over 80% of the population is rural based. Even those who know how to read can hardly
afford the newspaper. And books.
- Conventional theatre is partly a
cost recovery approach. Cost sharing is possible where the audience is
willing to contribute unlike other methods like seminars and
- Drama/Theatre teaches by demonstration, a long lasting
impact on the audience proverb (when you bear you forget, when you see
- Theatre cuts across a number of the would be
barriers like language, cultural taboo, status limitations/protocol
and can therefore penetrate thick iron curtains to address even as
highly placed persons as heads of state at their very nose.
- Dance and singing form a core of African theatre. Dances constitute sincere
indicators of people's culture. Dancing therefore is reflection of the
community ways of living and thinking. Dance is a folk media of
communication throughout the world.
- SONG: Music was and still is a strong mechanism of communication.
In the king's palace in Buganda. for example, musicians would be
called to give messages through their songs: In real sense life is
musical. In church, successful preachers have elements of the theatre.
Music is used in churches, military training, in wars to boast morale
even calling down ancestral spirits to plead for the living..
- Theatre as such is highly regarded as a mode of communication
- Its based on the human being as the chief resource hence behaviour
change is possible.
- Interpersonal communication is encouraged /promoted
- Brings people together to appreciate and understand one
another and as Soyinka asserts:
To act channels of anguish into creative purpose which releases man
from a totally destructive despair, releasing from within him the most
energetic, deeply combative inventions which without usurping the
territory of the internal gulf brides it with discovery hopes
- Communication barriers are limited in theatre. David Kerr
Although the main spoken language was Kikuyu, the play in
fact used very little dialogue, relying mainly on songs, dances,
mimes, slide projections and crowds disciplined into senses of
ensemble action. Even Non Kikuyu audience members could understand
most of what was happening...........................(P.249)
3. LIMITATIONS OF THEATRE
- People sometimes do not take the messages seriously, since they
come to relax and be entertained.
- Sometimes amature theatre practitioners are involved and follow up is not possible.
- Artists are sometimes regarded as curtain raisers or crowd pullers and that is
all about them.
- They are in many cases not facilitated to develop
their artistic skills hence they are always in ups and downs.
- Theatre approaches. E.g. free travelling theatre in Uganda started by
Makerere University in 1960's forced ideas of individual writer
(troupe) to a community (audience) without critical and serious
consideration in human and geographic differences. This argument is
raised by those artists who advocate for "participatory education
theatre" which is made by the people themselves.
To improve anti - corruption theatre as a media of communication, the
following needs to be done:
- Increase on research to establish the theatrical contributions to
the anti corruption campaign worldwide.
- Involve the community at all levels of developing such drama
- Monitoring and evaluation of the campaign should be done on spot and
immediate follow up made through participants committing themselves individually to the
- Emphasis on networking with people/organisations of
similar or related interests
- Documenting theatre works/experiences
and sharing on the worldwide level
- Encourage street theatre or
carnivals i.e. theatre practiced in streets or selected busy places
like markets, car parks. This method of art is brought down to the
people who are sometimes two busy to find time for "Leisure" in
theatre halls. As a result, they miss the lessons and became prey of
corruption and oppressive laws.
- Popular theatre: meant for a
specific goal and based on awareness promotion is to be developed.
- Community theatres: Performances whose subjects and issues of
treatment are basically simple social issues should be harnessed to
include complex topics like this one of corruption.
- School and colleges drama should embrace themes on corruption, democracy, and
human rights as a matter of principled education
5. RAISING AWARENESS ON THE STREETS OF UGANDA
- Having discussed the role of the creative Art, particularly
theatre, let me address my self to the Ugandan situation.
Uganda is a relatively small country in size and has a population of
about 20 million people. The majority of the people live in the rural
areas and poverty is the song every day throughout the year.
Corruption in Uganda has penetrated almost all sectors of life,
despite the political will to fight it. The poor think that through
bribery, they will save the little they intend to get while the rich
take bribes and embezzle in the very nose of ignorant masses. Civil
Society members must be involved in the fight because they are the
chief sufferers. The best way in our view is theatre by their side in
the places where they live and work.
- IATM ACTION PLAN 1999-2002
In view of building a strong vibrant civil society ready to challenge
and demand for accountability of the leaders, IATM shall do the
- Build capacities of theatre groups / individuals as change agents.
- In turn, they shall carry out the anti corruption campaign within
the work places, villages and specified operational zones.
- Strengthen the General Secretariat, administration and management
structures in order to root out being compromised by the rich and
- Address the issue of sustainability of the fight against
corruption by causing a human change chain from below to the top and
within the society.
- THE SERVICES OFFERED INCLUDE:
- Skills Training
- Networking and coordination opportunities.
- Information and communication dissemination
- Lobby and advocacy skills and practice
- MAJOR PLANNED ACTIVITIES:
- ORGANIZING ANTI CORRUPTION AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS ANNUALLY.
- Theatre performances throughout the year at strategic places
- Public demonstration and debates on thematic issues
- Letter writing to leaders asking for accountability and answers to revelations.
- Media campaign, phone in radio & T.V. programmes on topical issues.
NB. This year's Anti - Corruption week 23rd - 30th October is
organised jointly with other civil society organisations under the
umbrella of the Anti Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU)
- Co-organise annual Pan African Anti - Corruption Festival in Zambia
- Organise integrity building anti corruption workshops. This
year the target is to cover 10 districts in Uganda, establish IATM
Chapters in 10 African Countries
- Broadcast radio and T.V drama series locally and internationally.
- Organise anti corruption Art exhibitions to coincide with important events
- Document anti corruption theatre works/other materials and circulate for raising
public awareness. So far, four plays and festivals are documented and
awaiting duplication for circulation.
- Link artists to other anti corruption and development agencies worldwide.
- Promote good governance in the partner organisations
- Produce informative anti corruption materials and circulate them to the public
- Aim at exemplary leaders and leadership in the IATM family.
All these activities aim at creating public awareness which is action
<My presentation is punctuated by short video anti corruption
Also available on request at: IATM
P.O. BOX 26408 Kampala - Uganda
Tel: 256 41 341569