“Why are we going wrong?” raps Suleiman Mohammed, the leader of the AMURTZO Rap Group, “I’m talking to them but they are losing their minds, why are we going wrong?” Suleiman says that he was “going wrong” until he entered the AMURT program. Like many of his peers, he could not generate the money to pay for his education and had to drop out of school and drop into bad habits. However, he always worked on his creative talents, hoping that one day opportunity would knock at his door.
Suleiman (far left), with his fellow rappers, is trying to influence his peers through the medium of conscious rap “I talk to my people about HIV, I talk to my people about drug abuse. Keep it real: You’d better change the way you use. Chill out baby and stop abuse.” Suleiman was performing this song at one of the football tournaments he and his fellow peer educators had organized with AMURT support. The young crowd was moving happily to the beat, enjoying the mix of education and entertainment offered by the peer educators. After the half-time show the peer educators chatted with members of the crowd in small groups, providing advice and condoms if requested.
Recently, a Washington DC based musician, Gustavo Monje, traveled to Kenya to train Suleiman and his team in sound engineering, as a first step to helping them start their own studio as an income generating project for long-term sustainability. Gustavo was impressed with the youths’ attitude, and felt privileged to help them express their talent in constructive ways. “They are gifted at hip hop and put on a great show,” gushed Gustavo. “They were so happy to have the opportunity to learn a new skill and made full use of my time.” Suleiman is happy with the exposure he is getting as a peer educator. Recently he was invited to perform at a public function during Kenyatta day, performing for over 1000 people. “I am happy with my improved skills,” he says. “Now I can make better beats for myself and others, and help my peers see a more positive side to life.” We hope that Suleiman will continue to grow as an artist and a decent human being, serving as a role model for others, and showing that young people just need a helping hand to find their rightful place in society.