Meet The Man Behind South Sudan’s First Comedy Festival

by Duke Magazine

South Sudanese comedian Akau Jambo has wished for his country to host its international comedy festival since 2018.
He was inspired by all of the comedy shows he saw while visiting South Africa, as well as how it can attract tourists.

“I felt like I needed to do something like that in my own country,” he explained to BBC Newsday host James Copnall.
His dream has now come true. South Sudan hosts its first international comedy festival, featuring comedians from Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.

Jambo wants to show people a different side of South Sudan, one that isn’t depicted in everyday news stories about violence and insecurity.

“People think we’re out here dropping bombs like music albums every night, but we still have time to laugh,” he said, describing South Sudanese people as “happy.”

Jambo recalls an incident in South Africa that has stayed with him. He was at a comedy show when a fellow comedian asked him, “Dang, do people in South Sudan also laugh?”

It was sarcastic, but it moved him and fueled his determination to launch Juba’s international comedy festival.
South Sudan, which is home to over 60 different major ethnic groups, has been embroiled in conflict. There have recently been tensions over the implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2018 after five years of civil war.

According to Jambo, what distinguishes South Sudanese comedy from other forms is the people’s dark sense of humor.

They use humor to get around the “really crazy” things that happen there, as well as the “very different cultures” that exist within the country, he adds. Nothing is off-limits when it comes to jokes.

“I’m going to drop it right there if I find it funny, even if it’s politics,” he says.

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