Over the past four years, and with support from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), Dr Nicolas Salazar Sutil from the School of Performance and Cultural Industries/water@leeds has been conducting action research in the Lake Chad Basin, with partners in Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria. Three ongoing projects have so far focused on community-building through creative practices, drawing on interdisciplinary frameworks that bring together environmental scientists, conflict researchers, creative researchers, artists, as well as Civil Society Organisations, military, humanitarian and also international actors such as United Nations Development Programme.
The work has so far resulted in a ‘train the trainees’ programme for social artists conducted in several refugee camps in Chad (Dar es Salaam, Amboko, Gore); a training for community theatre practitioners in N’Djamena (Chad); the formation of a theatre of ex-combatants of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Bol (Chad) and Diffa (Niger); the creation of a network of woman survivors of the Boko Haram conflict in Maiduguri (Nigeria), and the creation of a multi-national research consortium called Amana Network.
The various creative frameworks currently under development seek to find endogenous mechanisms for community-building, addressing three distinct issues: reintegration of victims and perpetrators of violence, counter-extremist message design, and social cohesion within refugee communities.
The team led by Dr Nicolas Salazar Sutil and Chadian partner Taigue Ahmed (Director of Association Ndam Se Na) has also received funding from the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Germany) for the commissioning of a documentary (to be presented in the form of a choreographic stage production) conveying the Lake Chad conflict in relation to the drying lake. The piece, entitled “The Drying Prayers”, is a homage to the lake and its relation to local communities. The piece will be shown in November 2020 at Centre Nationale de la Danse (Paris) Hoch X Theatre (Munich) and Nationaltheater Weimar.