Western Empire was created by members of the local South Sudanese community who wanted to share their traditional culture, music and wrestling with young people. Coming together regularly to learn South Sudanese culture and language has proven important for the young people, helping them to feel connected with their community and more motivated to maintain their traditions.
Led by community leaders Bol Garang and Atem Machol Dau, and coordinated by Anoya Majok and Adut Atem Kiir, Western Empire held music and dance workshops for young people, led by ten trainers from different tribes who provided dancing and cultural training. Bol Garang and Atem Dau received mentorship from Matt Aiken and Marnie Richardson during the development and delivery of the project.
Participants performed the dances to traditional music, before 300 members of the South Sudanese community at a showcase and dance event at Altone Leisure Centre in December 2021. Local artist, Jok Deng, also performed western music, which was Western Empire’s way of honouring not only their culture but also their integration into Australian culture.