22 March 2016
|The Salama Africa dance group during their performance at the National Kajive Competition’s final round, held in Blantyre. The group did excellently, placing second in the competition. (Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi/Dzaleka Refugee Camp)|
|The chairman of Salama Africa has this to say: “Our vision is to get young people and children to be part of the positive change within their community.”|
Dzaleka, 8 March 2016 - Farini Wasamba Fredy is originally from North Kivu, Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His life was under threat and so he left his home country as he was being persecuted as a human rights activist.
Two years after being enrolled at JRS-JC:HEM - Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) along with Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) - as a student, he came up with an idea following his courses in Interpersonal Communication, Interdisciplinary Art and many others. He used those skills and applied them to create the dance group Salama Africa, which means Peace and Tranquillity.
Before starting his higher learning with JRS-JC:HEM, Farini used to spend all his time with other guys, loitering, as people in Dzaleka do not have much opportunity to do something constructive. So he, along with two other JRS-JC:HEM diploma students, did informal research into how people live in Dzaleka. The group made up of Farini, his brother, Toussaint Farini and Alain Tenta then came up with the idea to intervene in instances of young people of school going age, who were not doing anything productive, but spent most of their time drinking alcohol and participating in other anti-social behaviour. The idea was to establish an arts and culture group. Dzaleka is a multicultural community, because the people that live there are from different countries and cultures and this enabled the group to create diverse activities such as music, poetry and drama. It brings people together with positive values, where they are participating in positive, community building activities.
Farini has this to say about the initiative: “Our mission is to bring different young people and children together, in order to channel their potential and energy to positive social transformation.”
Farini goes on to explain that: “We organized different workshops in terms of cultural activities where young people expressed their artistic talent. I try to push them to think critically about their futures and how they can contribute to making a difference. These young people are organised and create activities in order to get young people and children of Dzaleka to actively participate in development.”
The chairman of Salama Africa has this to say: “Our vision is to get young people and children to be part of the positive change within their community.” Although other people – especially older people - do not consider young people to bring change and transformation to their community and are critical of them, the Salama Africa dance group has however proven detractors wrong. They made a significant difference at the Malawian National Kajive competition, held in Blantyre recently.
The dance group placed second in the national competition’s final round, but their performance was not solely for the purpose of competing and entertaining the audience, but to convey a powerful message, their performance told the story of the people of Dzaleka, talking about the shortage of hospitals, the violence that brought some to Dzaleka, freedom, education and many other socially relevant themes. This was all achieved as a result of what Farini had learnt and applied through his understanding of how to express oneself through Interdisciplinary Art. This is the value Farini gained in being a young community leader through his course with the JRS-JC:HEM programme.
Video: The Salama Africa Dance Group, practicing a week before their big performance at the Malawian Kajive, National Competition held in Blantyre.
Robert Kabale Mbanda, Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi and Joseph Kabila Bahulule/Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi
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