Just when you thought hip-hop artistes and rappers were tattooed, women-loving, booze-quaffing shysters, Abramz Tekya does the unthinkable. He literally breaks out of the mould and quashes the stereotypes.
Ugandan rapper and ‘breakdancer’ Abramz Tekya is showing hip-hop artistes everywhere how it’s done. Much more than the fame and fortune, the bling and the flings, he is proof that you can utilise whatever platform or skillset you have for the good of many.
An educator and motivational speaker, he is the founder of the Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU), a non-profit organisation that uses breaking/breakdance, beat-boxing, and rap to promote positive social change and social responsibility.
Abramz discovered his gift of movement as a young child in 1991 and his way with words in 1992. Orphaned at a young age, Abramz and his brother Sylvester formed a rap group, and in February 2006, he started Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU) because he believed that hip-hop could be used as a tool to engage and empower disadvantaged youth in Kampala and other areas of Uganda.
The mission of the BPU is to engage young people in elements of the hip-hop culture to build leadership skills and promote social responsibility. The Project has attracted people from every walk of life and acts as a catalyst for building mutually beneficial relationships between people of different social status across Uganda and the rest of the world.
BPU is a youth centered project that works directly with young people of different backgrounds in Uganda, with a particular focus on those who are disadvantaged to give them hope and opportunities. The Project is centered on the belief that everyone can learn and everyone can teach and has the capacity to be a positive role model to others. The Project was built around free breakdancing classes currently offered at the Sharing Youth Centre, Kampala and at Gulu Youth Centre, Gulu. In addition, it partners with other organizations to provide social and educational activities and services to its members. [bouncingcats.com]
Based in Kampala, Uganda, BPU has expanded to include permanent classes in Gulu, Northern Uganda. Abramz teaches classes three times a week to more than 300 kids from all parts of the country.
In 2010, Abramz starred in ‘Bouncing Cats’ a documentary film written and directed by Australian director and photographer Nabil Elderkin which follows his efforts to use Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU) and dance to empower youth in war-torn Uganda. It featured Crazy Legs of Rock Steady Crew, narration by Common and additional interviews with Mos Def, Will.I.Am and K’Naan.
Now a veteran hip-hop artiste, Abramz has performed, taught, facilitated workshops and spoken at seminars in several communities across Uganda. He has also been opportuned to carry out similar work internationally in Zanzibar, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Senegal, Poland, Italy, Austria, South Africa, USA, Germany, Mozambique and Swaziland.
An inspiration, if I ever saw one, Abramz Tekya is giving Ugandan children a voice, skills, laughter and hope. If he can, so can they.