DAR ES SALAAM: THE Children’s Education Society (CHESO) has encouraged young people to use fine art because, besides being a viable career pathway, it’s an excellent means for them to convey various messages to the government through their legal right stipulated in the National Youth Council Act No. 12 of 2015.
The call was made by CHESO Executive Director and Coordinator of the National Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Mr Richard Shilamba, during a brief prize-giving ceremony for children and youths who performed well in expressing their views on death penalty through drawings, held over the weekend in Dar es Salaam.
The call came in line with the World Day Against the Death Penalty, which is celebrated globally in every October 10th. The day is meant to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and to raise awareness of the conditions and circumstances that affect prisoners with death sentences.
According to him, children and young people will be able to persuade the government to abolish the death penalty through the use of fine art because children whose parents received a death penalty experience greater psychological distress, weakened health and some drop out of school when compared to children whose parents are incarcerated.
“Young people, especially those under the age of 18, have been excluded from expressing their thoughts, particularly on the death sentence in the country,” he said.
“After identifying this challenge in the country, CHESO has been inviting young people in and out of school to give their opinions on the death penalty through the art of painting. Their paintings have been competing with other paintings nationally and internationally.”
He added that from 2016 to October 27, 2023, CHESO managed to have 30 drawings that won with a bang internationally.
Explaining the benefits of the art, he said, between 2017 and 2018, CHESO, in collaboration with the Tanzania Coalition Against Death Penalty, enabled a total of 43 young people and children from Tanzania to participate in an ‘International Drawing Poster for Young People Engaged Against the Death Penalty’ (Draw Me the Abolition) in France, where more than 800 drawings were presented, whereby the drawing of a student Jovin Josep, who was studying at Minaki Secondary School, came out on top.
Furthermore, he stated that between 2020 and 2021, Tanzania scooped third position out of 50 best drawings in a competition that included over 400 pictures from 13 different nations, of which CHESO had submitted 45 drawings. “There is therefore sufficient proof that Tanzanian children and young people want the death sentence to be abolished.”
However, he underlined the importance of working in parallel with the abolition of the death penalty on the strengthening of the judicial system and on ensuring adequate access to justice and reparations for victims and their families.
He also used that podium to urge the government to emphasise the subject of fine art in schools.
“There aren’t many fine art schools, though. As a result, we urge the government to allow drawing lessons in all primary and secondary schools. This will make it possible to gather children’s perspectives on the death penalty and other matters pertaining to children’s circumstances across the nation” he said.
Senior Art Officer of the National Arts Council of Tanzania (BASATA), Abel Ndaga, highlighted the value of fine art education, citing it as a favourable career path in the cutthroat employment market.
“We (BASATA) congratulate all the children who participated in this competition, the winners and the unsuccessful representatives. Continue those drawing talents and convey the message in the community because this is a good employment opportunity for now,” he said.