Al Jazeera Close Up

Circus Zambia | Close Up

Circus Zambia, where young people from the impoverished township of Chibolya come together to defy gravity.

Gift Chansa had an idea. ”If we put circus in Chibolya, they will see that we’re not criminals,” he told filmmaker Austin Meyer.

And that is what he did, starting circus training for the youth of his underprivileged neighbourhood. What came of his idea is a vibrant effort that showcases the strength and talent of more than 80 young people who have taken the opportunity Circus Zambia offers.

“We use dance, acrobatics, and theatre to engage young people in the community,” says Gift.

This engagement is threefold: engaging the body, mind, and soul.

Physical training takes care of the body, as the performers work on their acrobatics, clown acts and dancing. Through it, they learn the value of healthy living and taking care of their bodies.

The mind is addressed through the academic support Circus Zambia offers at-risk youth. Participants take part in literacy programmes and educational circus camps. The circus library offers them books and the media lab offers access to computers and the internet.

Life, social and leadership skills are taught as part of the soul component. Circus Zambia uses circus and clown training to teach about HIV/AIDS, sanitation, drug and alcohol abuse and more.

“The vision is that nobody is discriminated because of their place of birth,” says Chansa. “We want a future of love, equality, and opportunities for places like Chibolya. We want to remind people from Chibolya that they are change-makers.”


A film by: Austin Meyer

Drone footage: Muammer Yilmaz

Editor: Andrew Philips, Ala Alhussan, Elysia Bowers

Translator: Kashanga Kashanga

EP: Andrew Phillips


To see more stories from Austin Meyer, follow him on Instagram @austinmeyerfilms, listen to The Austin Meyer Podcast in which he interviews the world’s best storytellers in all sorts of genres about how they craft stories, or watch his films at his website