Friday, June 8, 2007


Here I am teaching music with our African concept instruments of Carl Orff's philosophy of teaching elementary music.

Music In Ugandan Schools
Including the Patongo Primary School
in a Northern Ugandan Refugee Camp

I saw a movie tonight in a little seaside New England town called Newport, Rhode Island, USA. I adore where I live. It’s small, it’s beautiful and we have opportunities that most small towns don’t have. We have this Newport International Film Festival every year in June and this is where I saw this movie called War Dance. It is shot in Uganda. The war in Uganda has wrenched the children’s lives. In this movie you will see reality, torturous pain and hope through the children’s experience in the world. Three brave and trauma-filled young people, ages 12, 13 and 14, will open their pain to you and let you have some understanding what is truth for them and what you should not turn your eyes and hearts from. This film will open in New York City and Los Angeles in mid November 2007. Hopefully, it will find audiences will warrant it opening in more than just these two cities. War Dance won the 2007 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Award.

“For the last twenty years, Northern Uganda has been at war with a rebel force, the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.). The children are not only the victims of the rebels, they are the rebels. The L.R.A has a chillingly effective process to fill its ranks: abducting children. Eighty percent of their army is kids, some as young as five. Under the cover of darkness, the rebels raid villages to kidnap new soldiers. Children are ripped from their beds, their parents unarmed and helpless. Once abducted, the children are forced at gunpoint to viciously beat or kill neighbors, other children and sometimes even their own parents. The boys become soldiers, the girls forced into sexual slavery.

After two decades, there is little sign of peace on the horizon."*

Uganda has an annual music competition for the school children in Kampala. The children in War Dance live in a refugee camp and they enter their school, Patongo, in the competition with 55 other schools. The children get lost in the music and dance and find some time away from the heavy emotional wounds that they live with. You can’t watch this film and not have your heart touched.

"...Patongo’s head teacher wishes he could give his students more. The war has stolen so much: their homes, their parents and their childhoods. Patongo’s refugee camp packs sixty thousand people in its endless squalor. There is no electricity, running water, and no place safe. Close to half of the primary school students are escaped child soldiers. The bullet holes in the school wall tell the stories the children would rather forget. Two years ago, the L.R.A. dragged twenty-nine children from their schoolhouse to become their soldiers. You can see the horror in the eyes of these children.

But when the music starts, expressions shift. After a lifetime of trauma, this year Patongo Primary School students have something magical to anticipate. For the first time, they have qualifed to compete in Kampala’s national festival. The capital city may as well be on another planet to these kids. Most have never left the camp, but they dream about Kampala’s towering buildings, plentiful soda and soldier-free streets. Unlike the wealthier schools from the south, Patongo’s students scrap for school uniforms and instruments. Despite the odds, the children endlessly practice their performances, filling the sweltering one room schoolhouse with dust. They are driven by heart, talent and, for some, the need to rebuild lives shattered by the L.R.A.”* http://www.shineglobal.org/shine_currentdocs.htm

A clip of the movie can be found here:


Hear the War Dance film directors, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine:


War Dance is endorsed by the African Medical and Research Foundation:


No pretentious Survivor show, here. This is real. Even though the film has true human tragedy exposed to your heart, it doesn’t leave you down. Go see War Dance. See for yourself.

I have nothing to do with this film. I simply saw it and think that it is monumentally important for all to see. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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