Amid the heat and dust, hundreds of refugees have gathered in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp to participate in the fifth edition of Kakuma Got Talent.
The three-day talent search was organized by the Lutheran World Federation, or LWF, with support from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. It brought together over 700 talented refugees and local residents who showcased their skills in music, dance, modelling and comedy.
“Most people believe that everything belongs to boys, even dancing,” said Fardose Daud, a Sudanese refugee and member of ‘Capable Girls’, an all-girl dance group. “We decided that this year we’ll have to show them, what a man can do, a woman can do, not even better but best!”
“Everybody needs to know that Kakuma has got talent."
The group put their skills on show in an energetic performance that ended with loud applause from the audience. They took third position in the Girls Dance Category, winning a cash prize of US$100. Other winners in various performance categories – Male Dance, Cultural Dance, Comedy, Fashion, Music and Photography – received between US$50 and US$250.
“The youth who are here in the camp are the next generation,” added Fardose. “We can do something with the future and we are capable of it.”
LWF, which manages refugee youth affairs in Kakuma, first organized the talent show in 2014, with the aim of engaging young people in constructive activities during school holidays.
“Everybody needs to know that Kakuma has got talent,” says Collins Onyango, LWF’s Area Manager based in the camp.
“Refugees have talents, they have skills,” he adds. “The only difference between anybody out there and them is that they had to cross a border running for their dear lives.”
LWF has plans to support the winners through training and mentorship programmes, that will enable them to earn a living through their talent.
The camp’s population has grown to over 186,000 refugees, with a significant number of children and youth. This year’s talent show introduced a new category for children, increasing diversity and the participation of parents.
“This diversity brings a wealth of talent in a peaceful manner and that’s why we also include the host community in all our activities,” explains Tayyar Sukru Cansizoglu, the head of UNHCR’s office in Kakuma. “Kakuma Got Talent is one of the ways that refugee youth find identity, build their self-confidence and show the world their talent.”