Tumaini festival is back

Life at a refugee camp can be challenging. Living in foreign land not out of will but running away from war and other life threatening situations is what brings people to refugee camps. As a way of coping, one Menes La Plume founded the Tumaini Festival which not only promotes talent at Dzaleka Refugee Camp but also promote co-existence among the locals and the refugees. Dzaleka is home to some 40 000 refugees from countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, among others. This year in its 6th edition, the festival promises more. Our Arts Editor EDITH GONDWE caught up with La Plume for details.

La Plume: Tumaini Festival seeks to bring joy

Q

: Tumaini Festival has been around for the past five years. Can you reintroduce the festival please?

A

: Tumaini Festival is Malawi’s largest music and cultural celebration. This year it will be held on Friday and Saturday November 1 and 2 at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Tumaini Festival aims at promoting peaceful coexistence and intercultural harmony between refugees and host community as well as boosting the economy of the people at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Q

: Who will feature at this year’s event?

A

: This year Tumaini Festival has quite a long list of performers. It will have both international and local artists that will perform during the event and people will be treated to assorted music performances, poetry, theatre, acrobatics and dance (traditional and contemporary). All the performances will take place across five performance areas: two stages (main stage and youth stage), a Poetry Corner, a Theatre Corner and a Cultural Ground (for traditional dance). There will also be an arts exhibition space and a children’s play space, for 2019 Tumaini is adding a fashion component with an event called ‘Fashion in the dust’. Artists performing at Tumaini Festival 2019 will be announced by September 2019.

Q

: What are new features of the festival this year?

A

: To enhance the cultural interaction, Tumaini offers a Home Stay Programme, which started in 2018 as a pilot. This year it will scale up to benefit more family economically and giving to more visitors the chance to experience the realities of Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Through the Home Stay Programme, Tumaini open doors of Dzaleka Refugee Camp to visitors from Malawi and around the world to visit and stay in the camp during the festival period. Visitors staying in the camp through the Tumaini Home Stay will be required to book their places in advance and pay a fee for the service. However, entrance to the festival is free of charge.

Q

: What is the focus of the festival this year?

A

: For its 6th edition, Tumaini has changed its strategy to focus more on impacting lives of people at Dzaleka by working towards their self-reliance and a sustainable way of living. So, instead of only being a two-days party, Tumaini is working throughout the year in providing entrepreneurship and innovation trainings, creative education programmes and the youth talent shows and these programmes started in June and they will run up to October 2019.

Apart from that, Tumaini is planning more events in the major cities of Malawi as part of the Tumaini pre-festival events.

Q

: Has Tumaini Festival really been beneficial to refugees at Dzaleka?

A

: Tumaini festival has a large impact in lives of people at Dzaleka Refugee Camp on the economic, psychosocial, social and advocacy level. Tumaini Festival also benefits refugees from the exposure and connections it brings to Dzaleka, allowing refugees to seek further opportunities to share their work outside Dzaleka. For this reason, Dzaleka residents look forward to Tumaini each year, as it provides a much needed platform for Dzaleka to promote its strengths and bring its voice to Malawi and the world. 

Q

: Do you have any final remarks?

A

: Tumaini Festival aims at bringing joy and hopes to refugees, and also promotes the talents of refugees and the camp itself as a place of unity, peace, coexistence and harmony. Remember Tumaini is a Swahili word meaning ‘Hope’. n

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