For the first time in its 20 years of existence, Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa will from today to Saturday host a music and cultural festival dubbed Tumaini Festival.
The festival, whose name comes from the Swahili word for hope, has been organised by the Dzaleka Cultural Association.
The inaugural festival will feature music, poetry, comedy, theatre, acrobatics, dance, traditional food and art exhibitions from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Burundi and Ethiopia.
“Tumaini Festival will meet all the cultural needs of refugees while also benefitting the host community as we all stand, sing, and dance together for peace. Tumaini Festival will promote Dzaleka talents and cultures to Malawians and expatriates living in Malawi and promote Dzaleka itself as a place of unity, peace, coexistence and harmony among refugees and Malawian populations,” said the festival organiser Trésor Nzengu in a statement.
The week-long extravaganza of performances and workshops will also see a number of events taking place within the refugee camp.
Explained Nzengu: “The festival culminates in a final day of performances on Saturday featuring acts from Nkhata Bay, Lilongwe, Dzaleka itself and the surrounding villages. Entrance to all events will be free of charge”.
Entertainment on Saturday will run from 10am to the early evening and include over 15 acts such as George Kalukusha, Menes, Amahoro Drummers, Sirius and Rain Maker.
“All the Malawian and international artists have accepted to perform for free to bring hope to forcibly displaced people in Dzaleka and let them know that we are all the same,” he stated.
Tumaini Festival is supported by Lake of Stars, Nyanja Productions, Plan Malawi and Music Crossroads.
Founded in 1994, Dzaleka is the only refugee camp in Malawi and is located in Dowa District.
Its population is 19 000 refugees and asylum seekers from mainly the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi and a small number of people from Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and more.