By Kate McIntosh
August 27, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A group of well-known Sudanese comedians are using humour as a way of delivering key health and safety messages, as well as boost morale in flood-affected communities in and around Khartoum.
- Sudan comedians Ibrahim Khider and Ahmed Omer give an impromptu performance to volunteers outside Nafeer’s headquarters in Khartoum (ST)
Respected comic Ibrahim Khider approached grassroots relief organisation Nafeer with his idea after hearing about the plight of flood victims and has been joined by his colleagues Ahmed Omer and Njwa Othman.
Khartoum has been particularly hard hit after heavy rains and flash flooding cut a swathe of destruction across the country earlier this month.
The World Heath Organisation (WHO) has warned that communities are now facing the threat of disease and other health problems related to poor sanitation and hygiene conditions.
The comedic trio have been reaching out to affected communities, performing improvised sketches in various areas daily for about three weeks, to help show communities how they can protect themselves.
The sketches cover educational messages about hygiene and sanitation practices, flood safety and disease prevention.
The perform ad-lib without props or other equipment, using own their voices and body language to convey their message.
Khider is the cornerstone of long-running television satire programme Masrah Fe al-Hawa (Street Theatre) and is a household name in Sudan.
He said delivering messages collectively to communities was the most simple and effective way.
“The idea is to present the messages in a simple way. Everything in the Sudanese community is about teamwork and working together. They are praying, they are celebrating, they are crying together. So, for them to receive the messages in a simple way, makes it easier for them to accept”, Khider explained through a translator.
Prior to their visits, Omer says the group conduct research into the communities’ different ethnic traditions and culture – right down to perfecting regional accents and dialects.
Many of the people they spoke to in the villages had lost everything and were living in tents or under trees.
Using their art as a way to educate and make people laugh despite their difficult circumstances was something practical the group felt they could do to help communities.
“We feel happy that we can do something for them”, said Omer.
Khider said the group plans to continue with the performances until the flood crisis is over.
“The thing is that there are many problems in Sudan and we hope that the people can continue to help and work together to solve these, as well as the floods”, he said.