Notes from the field: the mural themes decided by the community arts council:
The community arts council involving women, youth and men leaders of the 6 different sites decided the themes for the two paintings should be based on peace and education. After this initial discussion, the next step was to find out how the community defined peace and education. This is where the project has taken a unique direction, different for example from the peace and education murals that were the subject of our last project in the Ivory Coast. When I asked about the subject of peace for the refugees they spoke about the different rights they want to have, pointing out that having these rights is part of the process of achieving peace in northern Mali. As the rights they mentioned are all found in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, I’ve been working with the articles that the refugees voiced a need for and having the youth learn about these articles as well as how they might envision these articles being enacted in their community.
So far we have: Article 3, 13, 19, 21, 25 which simplified are the right to a life in liberty and security, right to free movement, right to free speech, right to participation in government and politics, and right to social security. I’ve written earlier about the conflict in Mali and how lack of representation of the Touareg in the government, and lack of investment of government resources in Touareg communities, as well as policies that have inhibited the nomadic lifestyle of the Touareg have led to worsening relations between the Touareg communities and the Malian government. Like other conflicts around the world the one in Mali has perpetuated a cycle of violence in which atrocities have been committed on both the side of the Malian army, and the rebels. Amidst efforts at reconciliation and negotiating a way forwards, these articles are an important reminder of the issues that need to be addressed for a real and lasting peace.
The youth have decided to express the following articles from the Declaration of Human Rights in images on the Peace Mural L’École B, Mentao Centre Sud:
A match of football = Article 3: Right to life in liberty and security
A herder on the move with his animals = Article 13: Right to free movement
A journalist writing and thinking = Article 19: Right to free speech
A peaceful protest = Article 21: Right to participation in politics and government
A handicapped person being cared for = Article 25: Right to social security