Freestyling for Change: inspiring youth in Caqueta, Colombia

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By Lissette Mateus Roa
Facilitator, Goldin Global Fellows

We want to share the unique and inspiring journey of twenty-four year old Johnatan Cordoba from Florencia in the Caqueta region of Colombia. Johnathan is a 2022 Global Fellow (Spanish Edition). He is a trained attorney who combines his skills with the arts to support youth development and youth leadership through Flowrencia Crew (@flowrenciacrew).

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What we particularly want to share is how the month of August transpired for him. Employment opportunities in Colombia, particularly for young attorneys, are not always easy to obtain. Johnathan managed to secure himself a position as a Municipal Police inspector, in the Municipality of Solita Caqueta, a small town in the south of Colombia. This region has endured armed conflict for the past 14 years, which makes Johnathan’s new position both rewarding and challenging however he is determined to be a role model for other young people.

“The activities that we provide in our community work are opportunities in which young people can be themselves and can express their vision of reality and their perceptions of it. Likewise, we work to generate sharing times to use free time in a good way, encouraging young people with trips and prizes such as: clothing or accessories. In our space we also seek to promote local talent through music, perhaps one day we will have a super star among us. Additionally, we also work with beatbox and at this moment from our territory we have the national champion in that discipline, which is why we are motivated to work with art and hope with it to provide tools for change and opportunities for personal improvement with them. Finally, I highlight the importance of freestyle and beatbox, to release repressed emotions, traumas, stress, and other negative situations that young people acquire from the environment, we work to create safe spaces and an escape door”.

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Indeed, alongside his role as an attorney and police inspector, Johnathan believes that music and rapping/freestyling has significant potential for social change among youth. Johnathan’s freestyling recently landed him a great opportunity with a very famous Colombian comedian Lokillo (@lokilloflorez, who has a following of over 3 million people), who is doing a freestyle tour in the country. Johnathan was invited to participate in one of Lokillo’s shows in Florencia, Caquetá. Now, Johnathan’s area of residence (Solita) is not just quite a distance from where the show was being held (Florencia) but the terrain and route is not the most easy. He describes the journey as “going through a marathon” to be able to get to the show in time. Below you can see the journey he undertook followed by his performance on stage with Lokillo.

“It was important to share this stage with Lokillo because he recognized the work done, gave us visibility and he trusted that my talent would impact the audience (over 500 people) who had paid for the show. It was also very important to be able to get in touch with someone who is so relevant in Colombia, who listened to our work and who used his position to make us visible. It was so important that he has been kind enough to help us organize one larger event in our territory which will take place on October 29, in Florencia, Caquetá. His help consisted of motivating the young people in the community and providing us with supplies for the event. It should be noted that for these events we are also using the contributions made by Goldin Institute through 2022 Goldin Global Fellows in Spanish Language. In addition, it is necessary to state that the freestyle events we hold are important to transform my community; Caquetá is an area marked by internal armed conflict, so tools are required that achieve sensitivity in the community. Working with young people is vital, as it gives them a platform to use their free time while keeping them away from violence and other unfavorable environments”.

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