Tumaini cultural festival unites refugees and locals: UNHCR hails Malawi govt  

Organizers of Tumaini Festival have described this year’s festival held over the weekend as a success saying it brought together refugees and locals at  Dzaleka refugee camp.

Together they listened to music, theater and poetry.

Together they listened to music, theater and poetry.

Traditional dancers from Malawi also performed for the refugees

Traditional dancers from Malawi also performed for the refugees

Even some foreign tourists attended the festival

Even some foreign tourists attended the festival

About seven thousand people patronised the event as they listened to music, theater and poetry.

Tumaini” means “hope” in Swahili and for many residents of Dzaleka, the Tumaini festival means exactly that; an opportunity to forget their sufferings.

Speaking during the event held on Saturday , 5 November at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa, Tumaini Festival Director, Menes La Plume said he was impressed saying people  came in large numbers to support the initiative which  aims at promoting  peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities living around Dzaleka area.

“I am very glad that people have come in large number to support this initiative,” he said.

He added that the festival is also aimed at promoting intellectual harmony and boosting economy of people living at refugee’s refuge area.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR is one of the sponsors of the festival. “We know that refugees have challenges, they face a lot of issues including xenophobia in many situations,” UNHCR Malawi representative Monique Ekoko said.

By showcasing their talents, the festival should help to change that.

“We are trying to tell the world that a refugee is somebody just like you and me,” Ekoko said.

She commended Malawi government for its support towards the festival saying refugees are hopeless people who always need comfort from others.

Meanwhile, Director in the ministry of culture and civic education Dr. Elizabeth Chindevu commended organizes, saying the event gives a platform for people of different nationalities to interact.

Chindevu appealed to the public to stop segregating refugees in order to achieve the country’s socio-economic development.

“Refugees are people like us and they need support, and for the country to do better, we need people like them to share us their experiences and there are people who are very creative at Dzaleka a thing that Malawians can learn from,”she said

She added that events of such   nature have potential of creating a good relationship between Malawi citizens and people from other nations.

The event made possible with support from Lake of Stars, Plan international, Klaus, UNHCR and was spiced up by different artists including poet Robert Chiwamba, Faith Mussa, Agorosso, tradition dances  and  Chimz Kelly from Zambia. Musicians from  the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia performed.

Dzaleka is Malawi’s only permanent camp for refugees. It is home to approximately 25,000 people mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. There are also smaller populations from Ethiopia, Eritrea and neighboring Mozambique.

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