I Am Karachi - the seven-day youth peace festival - culminated on Saturday, at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi. The aim of the festival, however, did not end with it as it succeeded in bringing to the fore Karachi’s hidden talent and give them a platform to showcase it for the world.
The participants of the festival included aspiring singers, artists, photographers, public speakers and writers. They were the youth of Karachi, formerly hidden behind unseen curtains, unsung and uncanvassed. On Saturday, however, they were celebrated and bestowed with rewards for their talents.
The Arts Council, Karachi, had organised the festival in collaboration with the Sindh youth affairs department to mark International Youth Festival celebrated across the world on August 12. It featured competitions in photography, drama, painting, singing, debate, quiz and essay writing in both English and Urdu over the seven days.
Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on youth affairs Faisal Subzwari, Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Karachi Administrator Rauf Akhtar Farooqui and Arts Council secretary Muhammad Ahmed Shah spoke at the closing ceremony and distributed prizes and shields to the youngsters who had distinguished themselves in their respective categories.
The participants in all categories were divided into A and B class, based on their age limits. The A class participants ranged between the ages of eight to 19 while the B class participants were aged between 19 and 35. The top three participants were given cash prizes while all the contestants were given certificates of participation.
Muhammad Arif Soomro, a computer operator at a public service body clinched the first prize worth Rs100,000 for the quiz competition. “I knew I would win when I gave the test,” said Soomro, who has a personal library at his home in Khairpur. “Read, read and read is my message for the youth,” he stressed.
Syed Ahsan Shah and his friends from Kalri, Lyari, were posing with his award from the photography competition. Ahsan had bagged the third prize in photography. “We don’t have any training facilities for photography in Lyari. I learnt the art from training sessions and videos available on the internet,” he said, adding that aspiring photographers can gain substantial knowledge from online lessons.
The winners of the singing competition took turns to sing on stage. The Arts Council secretary said that all the contestants were so talented that it had been very difficult for the judges to reach a verdict. A 12-year-old girl, Sajar Nafees, who clinched the special prize in singing, pleasantly surprised the crowd with her voice and command over rhythm, language and breath.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Faisal Subzwari urged the participants to spread the skills, knowledge and whatever they had learnt in the seven days among their fellows, family and the youth of their locality. “You have to pledge that you will take the lessons of harmony, morality, tolerance and peace that you learnt here to you streets and your families.” He said that his department and Karachi Arts Council will continue to organise such activities for the youth to show the world the true picture of Karachi. “Karachi is a resilient city. It has to bounce back. It has to be resilient. It has to show the world that I am Karachi.”
Ahmed Shah also stressed the participants to own the city. According to him, he had won a name for himself because he had owned Karachi - the city that gave him recognition. He lauded the efforts and skills of the participants and said that they were all talented in their own right. Shah also said that the Arts Council, youth ministry and the commissioner had formed an alliance to organise such activities.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th,2014.