Menes grabs international award

Multilingual poet and founder of the Tumaini Festival hosted at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa, Menes La Plume, has won the inaugural Social Inclusion Heroes (SIH) Competition for sub-Saharan Africa.

The competition, run by the World Bank’s Africa Region and its Social Development Unit, aimed at identifying positive role models for African youth.

La Plume (L) receiving the award from the World Bank Group vice-president of external relations Sheila Redzepi (C) and the head of communications in Southern and East Africa, Kofi Tsikata

La Plume, popularly known by his first name, was honoured at a ceremony which took place on Friday on the sidelines of the just-ended International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington DC, United States.

“It’s official! I received my award from the World Bank as Social Inclusion Hero for sub-Saharan Africa. So great that the impact my work is making at Dzaleka Refugee Camp and Malawi is getting noticed and recognised by major institutions around the world,” he announced on his Facebook pages.

Speaking in an interview, La Plume said, to emerge the winner, he competed against 700 applicants from across sub-Saharan Africa. And aside from receiving the award, the artist was involved in a number of side events at the ceremony.

“Now I will be connected through the World Bank’s Youth Transforming Africa Programme to continue to build a network of African social inclusion leaders,” he said.

The SIH competition aims at changing Africa’s development narrative by highlighting inspirational and transformational success stories across the continent.

“The competition aims to identify some of the young Africans working to support the inclusion of vulnerable people. We hope that it will build up a community of social inclusion leaders and illustrate the #AfricaCAN spirit,” reads part of the information on the World Bank website.

For the past five years, La Plume has hosted the Tumaini Festival at Dzaleka Refugee Camp during the first weekend of November.

This annual event transforms the camp into an international celebration ground and the festival is an innovative cultural event, developed and delivered by refugees and the host community.

The festival  uses entertainment and artistic expression to promote economic empowerment, intercultural harmony, mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Recently, it has gained national and international media coverage, presenting a different and positive story about refugees.

Beyond the artistic and peace-promoting components of the festival, Tumaini also brings economic growth and tourism to Dzaleka and surrounding villages.n

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