The Zambian slum of Chibolya is notorious for crime and drugs, but acrobat Gift Chansa wants to get the township’s youth hooked on a very different high – circus.
Members of Circus Zambia (L-R) Charles Malama, Gift Chansa, Benard Kaumba pose for a photo at MTV London, United Kingdom on July 12, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation / Cormac O’Brien
Chansa is co-founder of Circus Zambia, the country’s first social circus, which provides disadvantaged young people with education and job opportunities while teaching them everything from unicycling and fire-eating to tumbling and juggling.
The circus also runs a “Clowns for Condoms” project to help tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia, where myths persist that the disease is linked to witchcraft.
Set up in 2015, Circus Zambia has already gained international attention, performing in Britain, the United States, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands and across Africa.Chansa grew up in Chibolya, a poor Lusaka township which one Zambian journalist recently likened to Sodom and Gomorrah.
It is an image the charismatic acrobat is keen to dispel. He says young people are discriminated against and refused jobs simply for mentioning they come from Chibolya.
“When you grow up there, no one takes you seriously,” Chansa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation during a tour of Britain this month.
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