Break dancing takes form on the streets of Kampala

Straight out of Kampala — young kids are changing their lives through break dance. The discipline, the development of skill and the responsibility it takes to master the hip hop culture dance has drawn hundreds of youth.

KAMPALA, UGANDA (RECENT) (REUTERS) – ‘You’ve got to get them when they are young’ is Hamisi Ahmed’s dance philosophy. Every day, he teaches a break dancing class to children from Nsambya, a slum in Kampala, Uganda.

The moves are intricate, so he takes his time and is especially patient with the youngest ones.

Born in Rwanda but raised in Uganda, “Future” as Hamisi is known in the hip hop world here, says break dancing has given him a sense of purpose and a future.

“I get my school fees from break dance, there are other needs of life that I need and I get them also from break dance. So I always tell them that if you keep focused doing what is right and what you want, you will be where you want to be,” said Future.

In low-income areas like Nsambya, poverty and high unemployment often mean many young people resort to crime and a life on the streets.

Future and the other dancers who work with the kids here believe the discipline and skills they teach can help to empower and inspire their students.

The 29-year-old b-boy was introduced to hip hop culture at the Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU), a youth organisation that uses break dance and other creative art forms to promote positive social change.

BPU offers free break dancing, visual arts, rap and beatboxing lessons.

“Whenever they hear music, of course they will go see what is happening at that place so we use that to sensitise them about different things about life so that they can help their community, the community will benefit from them as they develop the community,” he added.

To challenge his young dancers, Future encourages them to enter contests like this one.

Breaking dancing is one of the most popular hip hop art forms in Uganda. BPU regularly holds events that bring together the best b-boys and b-girls in the country.

Today, Sanyu Muhanuka is dancing solo. She puts one a fierce performance.

“I wouldn’t be who I am if it was not for the Break Dance Project. It has helped me in my life and has taught me to know the difference between right and wrong. I have learnt a lot of what I need to know as a girl and it has taken me places I had never been to. It has literally helped build self confidence,” said Sanyu.

Founder and director of the Breakdance Project Uganda, Tekya Abraham “Abramz” is one of the judges at the showcase.

“We will transform a number of lives or we have transformed a number of lives even including mine, hip hop transformed me and it gave me self esteem as someone who dropped out of school and had no money for further education but now to see that hip hop we are actually helping people go to school for me it’s more of an example,” he said.

Popping and locking, the dancers battle each other for supremacy.

Break dancing is giving these kids a platform to express themselves and teaching them how they too can be positive role models in their communities.