Graffiti becomes medium for Covid-19 information in South Sudan

By Atem Mabior

Juba, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- On learning of the first coronavirus case in South Sudan, 15 artists hailing from across the African nation reached for their paint, brushes and spray cans to do their part in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The participants, who range in age from 25 to 30 and are all graduates of the University of Juba, set out for the Jebel Dinka neighborhood on the west side of this capital to launch their graffiti information campaign: “Coronavirus is a Real Disease, Take care.”

Akot Deng, the 26-year-old leader of the initiative, points out that in South Sudan – a country where less than 30 percent of the population is literate – there is “little interest in reading.”

Given that reality, he and his colleagues pursued a way “to contribute to creating awareness about the coronavirus and how to prevent it using graffiti,” Deng tells Efe.

“We chose the image as a way to inform people about how to prevent this dangerous disease,” he says as he covers a wall in Jebel Dinka with images of a girl wearing a surgical mask and a person washing hands.

While the graffiti is important to him as artistic expression, Deng also sees it as his duty “to the homeland.”

Besides graffiti, the group is working to design and print posters for display in Juba’s markets and shops – anywhere people come together.

The dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Juba, Justin Billy, calls the artists’ decision to leave their galleries for the streets is a “cry in the face of the crisis and death.”

In Jebel Dinka, bus driver Simon Majok is so taken by the graffiti display that he pulls over and gets out to enjoy a closer look.

“Now it has become clear to me that the coronavirus does not spread if you use masks, wash your hands with soap constantly,” the 25-year-old driver tells Efe as he points to the graffiti.

“I am going to apply all this and I will also inform passengers about these messages every day I walk down this street, in addition, I will tell all the members of my family to come to this place that has become a beautiful area thanks to those colors and graffiti,” Majok adds.

Participating artist Sulaiman Ahmed Marjan shares a laugh with children and answers their questions in front of the image he just completed: a large, blue mask with the slogan “Stop Corona Virus.”

“The graffiti helps to convoy the message in a very direct way. Children and adults stand in front of the paintings and look at them and talk about washing their hands, wearing the masks and staying at home,” he tells Efe.

In front of the spread of the disease, there is the contagion of enthusiasm.

“This place has become a center of attraction and interest in Jebel Dinka, the person who passes by goes home to tell his family and will accompany them later to see these artistic messages,” he says.

Against the spread of Covid-19, the artists are generating a contagion of enthusiasm.

“This place has become a center of attraction and interest in Jebel Dinka. The person who passes by will go home to tell his family and they will accompany him later to see these artistic messages,” Marjan says. EFE


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