"Hip Hop is the best way to reach large groups of young people"

June 2006 -

"I’m no expert on the Hip Hop culture in Gabon," says Brazilian Max Soares. "But my research in countries including Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Tanzania has taught met that Hip Hop is an extremely important part of today’s African culture. Even more so: I believe it is currently the most important social and cultural release valve for young people throughout the world. Exactly because Africa is facing problems of enormous proportions it is important to utilize communication tools that can reach the masses. And Hip Hop does this better than all the rest."

Gabon’s capital, Libreville, is hosting Gaboa Hip Hop 2006 from 1 to 4 June: one of that country’s few large, multiple-day cultural festivals. In addition to African and European groups, mediation by the Prince Claus Fund has made it possible for the Brazilian company Membros CIA of Dance to perform there. An advisory role was played in this process by Brazilian Hip Hop specialist Max Soares, who has worked for years - with support from the Fund - to establish an international Hip Hop network outside of the commercial circuit.

"I became interested in Hip Hop dance about eight years ago because it is a typical street culture. It gives young people the opportunity to creatively express their joy, sadness, frustration, whatever, in public places," Soares explains his fascination with the Hip Hop culture. "I started studying the phenomenon and within a few months I found more than two hundred groups involved with Hip Hop in Brazil alone."

A Hip Hop group from Brazil will certainly have a different impact in Gabon than a group from the United States, Soares believes. "North American Hip Hop is omnipresent in the media. Not only is a Brazilian group special in Africa, but Membros CIA of Dance touches on a wide variety of social situations that the young people in Gabon will recognize. Making this a great opportunity for both parties."