International hip-hop artist, human rights activist, and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal founded Gatwitch Records in 2007 to provide aspiring socially conscious artists access to the international stage. Meaning “child of the land” in Jal’s native language of Southern Sudanese Nuer, Gatwitch has used its international production, marketing, and media network to bring attention to East African artists who are mixing contemporary musical styles and local traditions to share their inspirational messages of progressive spiritual, political, and social engagement.
In 2010, the Cultures of Resistance Network supported Gatwitch Records’ annual Gatwitch Festival, the first of its kind in Africa to combine live musical performances, film screenings, visual art exhibits, and keynote speakers to promote grassroots humanitarian activism and positive social change.
While the festival was broadcast internationally via television and the internet, its target audience was Africa’s youth. The theme of the inaugural 2010 festival was “Nourishing Africa’s Talent: from Aspiring Youth to Change Makers” with the goal of influencing Africa’s young people to become positively engaged citizens and community leaders. Each year Gatwitch sponsors 500 specially selected young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 from various African countries to attend the festival. They will be linked with professionals who share similar interests and goals to build a cross-continental mentorship network.
Sudan Sunrise served as a fiscal sponsor for this grant.