If you met Tekya “Abramz” Abraham you wouldn’t guess that he is a 29 year old, socially conscious, multi-talented B-Boy (breakdancer) and rapper who uses breakdancing to promote positive social change and social responsibility. He comes across as an unassuming, mellow, young man. A B-boy expresses himself through break beats ‘beats that b-boys can break to’ using various combinations or sets of breakdance moves – such as toprock, uprock, downrock, freezes, power, air attacks.
As the Director and Founder of non-profit organization, ‘Breakdance Project Uganda’, his life and achievements haven’t come easily. He lost both his parents at the age of seven and had to endure life as an orphan with his upbringing in the ghettos, slums and suburbs of Kampala shaping him into the man he is today.
An internationally recognized B-boy he volunteers his performing and teaches in communities across Uganda as well as in countries across the world like Burkina Faso, Zanzibar, Senegal, South Africa, Poland, Italy, Denmark, Germany and USA.
“I got into breaking at the age of nine after I watched films like ‘Breakdance the Movie’, “Beat Street” and underground hip-hop videos that had breakdance content in them,” he says. My relatives though at the moment were not happy with me being a hip-hop artist as they thought I was getting spoilt.”
“But today, there is positivity and brotherhood among the breakdance community in Uganda. Breakdance has been used as a tool to connect people from different walks of life thus playing a big role in empowering young people around Uganda by building their self-esteem, creating employment, education opportunities and bridging gaps between people of different backgrounds.”
He is a member of the Rock Steady Crew which is a legendary pioneer breaking crew that was established in the Bronx, New York City in 1977. He joined the crew in 2010 and some of his favorite breakers are B-Boy Ynot, Crazy Legs, Ken Swift, Easy Roc, B-Boy Machine, Kid David, B-boy Focus, Storm, Roxrite, Born, the list is virtually endless.
“Access to breaking knowledge and information from the early 90’s to the mid 2000’s, and making people see the positive side of breaking and Hip-Hop as a culture have been some of the biggest challenges I have faced as a B-boy but that said I dance for fun and professionally, as professionalism is empty without passion”
Abramz explains that resources – such as safe and free spaces for practice – are limited in Uganda today. But that the most important resource is the knowledge and passion for sharing skills and that is present in both B-boy and B-girl students and teachers in Uganda.
“As breakers in Uganda, our skills still have many areas of improvement to win international breaking competitions. But we’re using the art form, to fight battles against so many negative things going on in our communities like poverty, ignorance, low self-esteem, lack of education, racism and tribalism among others; a case in point is my life story”
Abramz would encourage anyone to try breaking but he has the following recommendation for newcomers: “First, they need to do it for the love before they think about doing it for the money, or hype, and they also have to discover themselves and their potential such that they don’t end up trying to be duplicates of their role models.”
These are some of the venues where breakers practice from in Uganda.
Masaka – Kimaanya Hall
Kitgum – Kitgum Youth Centre
Gulu – Gulu Youth Centre