The violence in Karamoja is likely the biggest forgotten, neglected part of what has been called the biggest forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency in the world. Both UPDF soldiers and rebels have been accused of gross human rights violations, drought is sweeping the northeast, and the violence has gotten so bad that the night commuter phenomenon, previously restricted to areas under LRA attack, is spreading to the region.
Amidst it all, there is hope — in the form of a hip-hop duo called the Rocky Boyz Crew. Ugly-Unit and Legless, its two young members, aim to promote unity and reverse negative perceptions of Karamoja through their music.
Another hip-hop artist in Kampala is doing the same thing. Abramz, a rapper and breakdancer, works in Nsambya, Gulu and Mbale to encourage at-risk youth to work together for social change through Breakdance Project Uganda.
I met Abramz at the Global Kimeeza II conference last month, and his passion for both his art and his work made my insides all smooshy (in a good way). If anyone knows how I can get in touch with the Rocky Boyz Crew and beg them to let me hang out with them for a few days, let me know.
Jay-Z may think he’s the UN of this rap shit, but he clearly hasn’t met these guys.
EDIT: Ariaka’s right. “Rebels” is the term the UPDF has applied to armed Karamojong, who some would argue are protecting their land, cattle and/or families against government attacks.