SLUMCHELLA started as a plan for an epic event. Our aim was to bring musicians from all around the world to Kenya to perform in one rural village and one urban slum to rally a grassroots opposition to the displacement of 1 million indigenous people by a massive hydroelectric dam. Due to a recent pledge by the Kenyan government to SUPPORT the dam, widespread violence across the north and a total information blackout regarding the dam and its impact, it has become clear that the event is currently neither possible nor wise. In response to the situation, we changed strategy- scaling down to maximize impact. A team of 2 filmmakers, 1 photographer and a writer are going to the Turkana province of northern Kenya to investigate and record the ongoing displacement of nearly 1 million indigenous tribesmen by the development of the GIBE 3 dam. Our goal is to bring the story onto the world stage, using our tools as artists and journalists. The product of this mission will be a compelling media piece to be used by any organization that opposes the destruction of some of mankind's last, functional indigenous communities along with the precious environment in which they have lived since the origin of our species.
Let us first introduce ourselves. We are VILLAGE BEAT- a California-based collective of artists and activists who work to protect the rights of Kenya's indigenous tribes. Our credo: Art as action.
In the spirit of fighting for a cause that matters to all of humanity, regardless of status or wealth- we are democratizing our fundraising effort.
We are asking for $3 from a few thousand of you.
We need you to help us protect the rights of Kenya's indigenous people.
Your action will cost less than the price of a gallon of gas. A latte. An organic avocado. An hour and a half of public parking. We reason that $3 is a significant contribution that nearly everyone can make. But your involvement doesn't stop there. You are about to become part of a movement.
Along with $3, we need your voice to send this message as far and wide as possible; to ask everyone you know to do the same. Born in this way, SLUMCHELLA will be our performance, you see? We will all be on stage together, making art and demanding justice.
While the posted $36,000 goal reflects our previous needs to put on two concerts, our new goal is $10,000.
The funds we raise will go to:
1. Hard expenses of getting our team of 5 to Kenya.
2. Transporting and sustaining the team during the trip from Nairobi to Lake Turkana and back.
Our ability to cover the story and produce a compelling media piece depends entirely on reaching our new goal.
In gratitude for your contribution and participation in spreading the word, you get the Calif Sessions EP (about 20 minutes of original music) recorded by Village Beat last year in Nairobi with the MCs of the Calif Records crew. Original genge ("people's music") heard nowhere else before.
Beginning in the early-1800's, Native Americans were forcibly removed from their homelands to accomodate the expansion of European-American settlement. Sitting Bull, chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, an icon of strength and resistance, was one of the last to surrender in 1881 to the US Army, after resisting confinement to a reservation and dependence on US Indian Agency relief for over 20 years.
Today, the indigenous tribes of East Africa face a similar ultimatum: surrender and abandon your land and way of life, or stay and die.
In this lifetime, we have the clarity to look back on the darkest hours of our history with deep regret for the destruction and irreplaceable loss of entire cultures. In this lifetime, we can act to prevent it from happening again.
The GIBE 3 dam will be a man-made disaster that will exceed the scale of the famine we've witnessed this year in Somalia, which has led to the displacement of at least 500,000 Somalis, now living in the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab in eastern Kenya. The relief effort has cost over $1 billion. $1 billion of life support for victims of a crisis that has already occurred. $1 billion that could have been spent on crisis prevention and the development of sustainable infrastructure. SLUMCHELLA is an action to prevent a future crisis of an additional 1 million displaced people. So we ask, $36,000 now to spark a movement or billions later?
Think of GIBE 3 dam as an earthquake, a tsunami, a hurricane, or an oil spill that will forever erase the way of life of some of mankind's last indigenous people. Now realize that, unlike the sudden catastrophes of recent years that have cost millions of lives, we can see this one coming. In fact, it can even be stopped.
The role we will play in this saga is to produce a compelling media piece that will be utilized by our organization and others who oppose the GIBE 3 dam.
The epic tale of GIBE 3 is not a secret. Despite a total lack of environmental or social impact assessments, the project moves forward. Most remarkable is that there has been no attempt to mobilize the coalition that actually has the power to stop the project. That coalition is comprised of the affected communities and those of us who live in a 'mediacratic' society with the power to sound the alarm and influence policy.
Discussion Forum to produce a People's Statement of Indigenous Rights:
In the Turkana communities, we will hold discussion forums between local and tribal leaders, research groups and human rights organizations to inform the communities about the impact of GIBE 3 dam- many for the first time. The aim of these forums is to produce a video and written People’s Statement of Rights to be delivered to the Kenyan Government.
Our specific demands to the Kenyan government will include the following:
1. To prevent the construction of the GIBE 3 dam (by whatever means are determined to be most effective by the Kenyan government), until certifiable third-party environmental and social impact assessments have been conducted and are found to be agreeable to all concerned parties.
2. To formally pledge to abstain from purchasing electricity generated by the GIBE 3 dam, thereby rendering the project economically inviable.
3. To prepare a contingency plan that is informed by - and in the interest of - the displaced Kenyan citizens, in the event that the GIBE 3 dam project is completed.
The plan shall include:
a. Temporary crisis-mitigation infrastructure (water, food, security, shelter, sanitation, medical facility access, communication) for 400,000-1 million people, over a minimum period of 5 years.
b. Measures to provide a sustainable, alternative way of life for the displaced nomad/pastoralist and lake-dependent communities (permanent alternative water solutions, permanent resettlement and land-use agreements, education facilities, local economy development assistance and cultural preservation).