Talent show in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, lifts spirits and brings hope

Refugee talent brought to life in the 5th year of ‘Kakuma Got Talent’ competition.

Full of Peace cultural group perform Burundi dance and won in their category. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile

Hundreds of refugees gathered in Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, to participate in Kakuma Got Talent.

The talent search brought together over 700 talented refugees and local residents who showcased their skills in music, dance, modelling, and comedy, over three days of competition. The event was organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), one of UNHCR’s (the UN Refugee Agency) partners in Kenya.

Fardose Daud, a refugee from South Sudan was one of the competitors.


Capable Girls perform a street dance at the fifth edition of Kakuma Got Talent. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile


Tiz Queen Girls, the winners of the coveted street dance, girls category in the three day Kakuma Got Talent event. ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile


Capable girls show off their dance moves at the Kakuma Got Talent gala ©UNHCR/Caroline Opile

“Most people believe that everything belongs to boys, even dancing,” said Fardose, a 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. 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.”

The girl group showed off their dancing skills 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.

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.

Collins Onyango is the Area Manager for LWF.

“Everybody needs to know that Kakuma has got talent. Refugees have talents, they have skills. The only difference between anybody out there and them is that they had to cross a border running for their dear lives. Kakuma Got Talent is that loud voice that invites everybody out there to know that in this dusty place, in this hot place, in this place of refuge, there are people who have talent.  All they are looking for is an opportunity.”

Everybody needs to know that Kakuma has got talent

Tayyar Sukru Cansizoglu is 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. This diversity brings a wealth of talent in a peaceful manner.  That’s why we also include the Kenyans who live here, the host community in all our activities,”.


Young models at the Kakuma Got Talent event held in Kakuma Refugee Camp (c) UNHCR/Caroline Opile


The children category was introduced in 2018 to nurture young talent

LWF has plans to support the winners through training and mentor-ship programmes, that will enable them to earn a living through their talent.

Since its inception 26 years ago, the camp’s population has grown to over 186,000 refugees, of which 27 per cent are young people.