This is the story about young hip-hoppers spreading a message of hope and peace while living within an armed conflict. 27-year old Jeihhco and his friends are using microphones, record players and education to change the everyday life in their neighborhood.
Medellín in Colombia is known as one of the most violent and dangerous cities in the world. In 2009, an average of nine people was killed each day. Over the past two decades, Comuna 13 has been in the crossfire between the army, guerrilla groups like FARC and ELN and paramilitary groups. Today the area is ruled by criminal groups.
The Danish news magazine Arbejderen has published an article about a group of rappers fighting for peace in the area Comuna 13 in Medellín: “People knowing who we are, is like a bulletproof jacket”, says rapper and political activist Jeihhco. “People know our community and what we do for peace, and therefore the neighborhood is looking after us.”
Five friends murdered In 2002, Jeihhco and a group of friends decided to do something about the violence that was a part of their everyday life. They created the hip-hop network ‘La Elite’. “To us, this was a way of taking part of the public life – socially, culturally and politically”, says Jeihhco. “This was a way for young people like me to participate, be a part of the process.”
However – it is not without danger to interfere with the public debate in Colombia, rapping about a city without violence and weapons. “Over the past two years, five of our friends from the hip-hop community have been murdered”, Jeihhco says.
Teaching though hip-hop Two years after the creation of ‘La Elite’ network, the young members started the festival ‘Revolución sin Muertos’ (‘Revolution without Dead’). Every year the festival has thousands of visitors. According to Jeihhco, the festival brings hope and energy to the children and young people in Comuna 13: “The whole city knows that in Comuna 13 there is hip-hop – there are hope and dreams.”
In 2009, Jeihhco and his friends in ‘La Elite’ created a hip-hop school. The students learn how to rap, sing and dance and at the same time they learn more about the conflict. “It is important that the young people know what is going on in the world, and what happens in the area they live in”, says Jeihhco.
Positive energy Despite the violence and the killings in Comuna 13, Jeihhco is focusing on the positive things: music, friends, the festival, the school and hip-hop. “We have a lot of positive energy, and indirectly we are fighting the war.”