In May 2010, Music for Peace (MfP) embarked on its inaugural cultural and artistic exchange to Freetown, Sierra Leone. The exchange, in which northern Ugandan artists Jahria Okwera and OJ Murugut and exchange coordinator Lindsay McClain Opiyo participated, was hosted by Freetong Players International (FPI), a community theatre troupe celebrating its 25th anniversary that month.
The primary objective of the exchange was to foster creativity, dialogue, and solidarity among performing artists in Africa who use the arts for conflict transformation and peacebuilding, and to begin building a coordinated network of such efforts.
In addition to participating in FPI’s anniversary activities across Freetown, MfP and FPI artists recorded a collaborative song, “One Africa,” that highlights the need for peace and unity rather than violence and corruption across the continent. MfP artists also made two presentations, performed in three concerts, filmed a music video for “One Africa,” and appeared on various radio stations in Freetown.
A portion of the exchange was funded with generous support of MfP partner organization, the Jazz for Justice Project (JfJ), based in Knoxville, Tennessee USA. JfJ organized a series of concerts and conferences from 2006-2009 to support music for peacebuilding and girls’ education in northern Uganda.
This exchange followed on the heels of a month-long peace music competition in northern Uganda in April 2010 that was designed to raise awareness on the visit to Sierra Leone and promote among the northern Ugandan community the value of the arts for building peace and positive social change in the wake of conflict.