RAILS channels African vibe in videos

South African pantsula dancer Rush Mabanana performs in RAILS education videos.

Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) has harnessed the energy of South African dance to promote legal messages to its clients.

The Brisbane organisation recruited acclaimed dancer Rush Mabanana to create online videos for its Law Rap Drum Circles education program.

Rush, from Limpopo, was in Australia recently to hold workshops in pantsula, a dance form which emerged out of black townships during the apartheid era. It integrates jive, gumboot, tribal African dance and everyday gestures.

RAILS Education Co-ordinator Robert Lachowicz said Rush was thrilled to work with the RAILS team, which included young African Australian filmmakers, at the Brisbane Powerhouse, where they recorded Right to silence … and truth, and Keep away from trouble.

Robert said the messages for the videos emerged from the local community. Right to Silence, for example, came from a story about an encounter with police in Fortitude Valley, and features the powerful voice of local musician and community worker Rugamba/Eric Kagorora.

“Vertical videos for phone were made so that the online messages could be sent mainly via TikTok and YouTube shorts given the popularity of these mediums,” he said.


“So far there’s been around 1500 views of the videos and RAILS is keen for people to share widely.”

Robert said RAILS used music, rap and drama in various forms for its community legal education.

He said Law Rap Drum Circles “bring the law to the community through rhythm, rhyme and song”. 

“People sit in drum circles playing hand drums, and sing and talk about navigating through everyday law problems,” he said.

“Ideas are shared and turned into songs and 40-second videos for community legal education through social media. People are referred for legal help where needed.

“Music and drumming are used as they entertain and engage people on an equal level and promote good communication, health and social connection.” 


The innovative program was developed by RAILS in partnership with the Queensland African Communities Council.  It works mainly from African Village in Moorooka and is funded through Legal Aid Queensland Community Legal Education Collaboration Fund.

View Law Rap Drum Circles videos here.

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