By Johannes Hangula
Confidente caught up for a chat with South African creative director, choreographer, and world dancing champ Paul Modjadji during his recent visit to Namibia with the Breaking Down Borders Africa Tour.
How are you involved in the Breaking Down Borders Tour?
I have the fulfilling task of being the brainchild behind ‘The Breaking Down Borders Tour’. The tour was inspired by the enriching experience I had interacting with young African leaders during my time in the United State of America for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. As an international judge and dance teacher for numerous dance competitions and dance workshops I was also concerned about the lack of representation from many African countries in the international dancing space. This tour is about inspiring young Africans to break the borders, unite and collaborate towards developing the Africa we want to see. I see my role as that of advocating for dancing education across Africa and the formalisation or rather professionalisation of dancing as a means to empower young people and address socio economic challenges that are facing many young people in Africa. Mine is to inspire, spark the conversation and create networks and collaborative opportunities.
What sort of message are you conveying to the young people through this tour?
There are several key messages that the tour is conveying; Arts education a necessary intervention for a healthy and sound development of young people, and dancing a career option for young talent across Africa. Africa is a young continent and it is affected by high unemployment rate and poverty, and yet many young people dance for fun and as part of their daily therapy, I would like to encourage them to turn this dancing passion into a sustainable career. We are calling for collaborations amongst youth across the continent, such as the one we are enjoying with Omayamebeko Hope Foundation in Namibia that will see us roll out youth development programmes that will empower youth in both Namibia and South Africa. We need more African investors investing in Africa than we are presently seeing. And it begins with us young people.
How will educational theatre help to improve the lifestyle of young people?
Educational theatre allows young people to discover their voice, embrace their bodies and stretch their thinking, creativity and imagination. Through educational theatre we are able to provide a healthy outlet for therapy and the development of one’s character. It brings about introspection and self-understating. It also allows youth to be sensitive to the world outside of their own personal world, to take up responsibility for their actions and to own up to their role in the world.
What do you think is the reason youngsters are discouraged from taking up Art studies?
Young people are discouraged from taking up Arts studies because of predominantly lack of exposure. Lots of African young people are not exposed to arts education, theatre and the arts world and the opportunities it creates from the young age. This is generally also a challenge previously experienced by their parents, whereby because they were never exposed to arts education themselves, they tend to discourage their children from considering arts as a serious outlet or career path. In Africa arts education is still for the elite and public schools don’t really offer quality arts education
Our young people are in the culture of destroying themselves, we are losing them to alcohol and drugs, and in your view what do you think should be done?
I believe young people resort to social ills such a s alcohol and drugs because of lack of inspiration and mentorship. I believe young people should be given the mentorship and inspiration they require to always make right decisions. As a community we should all rally together to ensure that young people have recreational activities that take up their time and build their character. Most of young people have no recreational activities to be involved in at any stage in their lives which is the most imperative for their development and self-discovery. As a result the generations of young people are running into the streets with nothing to do and no sense of guilt, because at home the expectations weren’t made clear enough.
What is holding back young people from fulfilling their dreams?
In my personal view, young people in Africa are held back by numerous factors, starting with lack of access to quality education, limited arts education, absence of recreational activities, diminutive mentorship and. I believe when a society puts its resources and energy towards giving young people an opportunity to excel, they will just do that.
What sort of impact do you want to make in the lives of the African youth?
If I can make any impact in the lives of African youth, is to empower them to know that you can come from any sort of background and go on to be the best in the world. I would like to inspire a generation of young people who are dreaming big, and not afraid to charge straight after their dreams. I hope my impact is one of sparking change and creativity in the minds of the youth, and a legacy of adopting a culture of giving back to the community.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015