The Martyn Bennett Trust is supporting a new music project for young people in a conflict zone in Colombia. In the Colombian Pacific, the lives of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples have been devastated. In addition to suffering massive displacement from their homes and communities, to shanty towns, many young people from these communities have been recruited into the guerrilla and paramilitary forces. The department of Chocó on the Pacific Coast is the poorest part of Colombia with more than 80% of the population living below the poverty line. Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities are struggling to maintain their cultural traditions in this context of massacres, threats, forced displacement and recruitment into armed groups.
In the city of Quibdo, thousands of people have been displaced from the surrounding countryside. Displaced young people forced to live in the shanty towns are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups.
Over the next year, the Martyn Bennett Trust will be supporting the Mama-ú Cultural Centre in its work with young people displaced by armed conflict and to strengthen and recuperate indigenous and Afro-Colombian culture. The overall objective of the Centre is to encourage the rich and diverse Afro-Colombian and Indigenous artistic traditions and rediscover the values and artistic forms that strengthen identity and resistance.
The Centre runs a range of activities in shanty towns of Quibdo, such as workshops on Afro-Colombian and Indigenous cultural values and ethics, identity and artistic expression, human rights and the empowerment of young people. The Centre also runs small artistic workshops in the neighbourhoods of Quibdo and runs an annual Art Festival for young people. The Centre also conducts research on the cultural traditions of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples, their music, poetry, dance and games. The Centre records these and supports communities to maintain their living traditions.