At seven years of age, Emcee Flower opened up for international hip-hop artist Nneka when she performed in Uganda.
The youngest female artist to ever open for an international star in the East African country raps in a style known as Luga Flow, using Native African languages. She has risen to fame for her talent of mixing critical thinking and advocacy around suffering children in Africa.
She is one of thousands of youth who have been touched by the work of Silas Balabyekkubo, a Ugandan-born hip-hop artist and pioneer of Luga Flow, who inspires youth to reconnect with their “indigenous truth,” and use their voice to spark positive change.
“She (Emcee Flower) has been able to position herself in the limelight with power and show people that even kids are capable to amount to this kind of greatness,” says Silas, who recently attended Social Change Institute (SCI) at Hollyhock lifelong learning center.
Silas came to SCI to connect with others making positive change, a role he’s been championing for seven years as the creator of the Bavubuka Foundation and the Bavubuka Dynasty. Both organizations aim to equip and empower young people in Africa to discover what they love and create work that matches their values.
Silas’ work is a response to what he says is a lack of representation and opportunity for youth in Africa. He says Africa is a young continent still coming to terms with its colonial past, and in countries like Uganda, a youth agenda isn’t on the radar.
Having been born and raised in Uganda until the age of 12, and experiencing the opportunities Canada has to offer in his late teens and early 20s, Silas is able to share a unique perspective with youth in his native country.
He travels to Uganda each year, spending months at time in a community center where he uses provocative questions and dialogue to allow young people to develop “their own pictures of what they want to paint on the walls of the world.”
“We provide spaces for young people to channel into their inner and be able to explore what they aim to do for the world, and most importantly for their families and the communities they live in,” says Silas, who funds his work through his music career, fellow artists who fundraise to support his work, friends and family.
“Once they show us what they want to paint, then our mandate is to support them in bringing that to life.”
Silas’ latest project is to build the first-ever Dreamspace in Uganda. The center, one of what he hopes will become many, will be a dedicated space and “enabling infrastructure,” that engages the mindset of abundance in young people to create dynamic new approaches to economic and community development.
Silas says Dreamspace and people doing what they love is the next economic evolution and can affect systemic transformation on both a local and global level.
The campaign to launch the first-ever Dreamspace is calling on 1,000 entrepreneurs in 10 cities across the world to dedicate $100 to the project. The funds will be used to create a prototype Dreamspace.
The campaign, called Ujamaah, is expected to launch later this year.
Photo Credit: Bill Weaver