Malawi: Arts and Culture in Dzaleka
21 December 2015

A collage showcasing the diversity of arts and culture at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, including instrumental musical performances, drama, beautiful sketching and melodious choral performances. (Gushwell F. Brooks/Jesuit Refugee Service)
The talent at Dzaleka Refugee Camp is world renowned and with good cause. If the various artists, actors and musicians prove one fact at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, it is that they are extraordinary people, talented, creative with a need to express themselves in an entertaining and beautiful way.

Dzaleka, Dowa District, 21 December 2015 -The Guardian recently covered a story on the Tumaini Arts Festival, founded and organised by Menes La Plume, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resident at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. The Festival is organised as a sister event to Malawi’s premier musical festival, the Lake of Stars, and this year 3,000 people travelled to attend the event held mid-November.

The talent amongst the refugee community is immense at Dzaleka Refugee Camp and thus it is the perfect setting for a musical festival of the scale of the Tumaini Arts Festival. Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), in accompanying the nearly 25 000 people resident at the Camp, are fortunate enough to be able to see talented young people showcase their artistic, musical and dramatic prowess on a regular basis.

Through expressive artistic and cultural activities, the people living at Dzaleka, particularly amongst the youth, prove that life continues and that emotion should and could be expressed through song, drama and art. The creativity of those that perform for the rest of their community in the camp and in the surrounding communities gives participants a real opportunity to live normal lives.

With the 3rd Cohort of JRS-JC:HEM graduating on the 25thSeptember 2015, arts and culture was on full display in the lead up to the graduation ceremony and up to graduation day itself. The pencil sketches of a teenage artist captured themes and slogans that inspired the graduating class of 2015.


The drama club produced an emotive play that captured the essence of what a life of a refugee is. The play told the stories of a range of characters with resonance in real life of how displaced peoples lose family, relatives, friends, possessions and livelihoods as they have to flee as a result of conflict.

                                                                         

The Amahoro Drummers lifted spirits and prepared everyone for the festivities that were to follow the following day at the graduation with their thunderous performance as they welcomed guests of honour to the camp. The leader of the band of drummers correctly describes the performance: “This is performance art. We express ourselves through performance. We are calling the people to gather without using words, but when they hear these drums, they know that we are calling them from far and wide.”


The JRS-JC:HEM choir practiced late into the afternoon and crooned those in attendance of the graduation ceremony, the following day.

The talent at Dzaleka Refugee Camp is world renowned and with good cause. If the various artists, actors and musicians prove one fact at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, it is that they are extraordinary people, talented, creative with a need to express themselves in an entertaining and beautiful way. Their pain, aspirations and hope is captured in every expression and we all at JRS consider ourselves privileged to usually having a front row seat to such beauty. 







Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404