Refugees Curtain Raise for Renowned Hip-hop Artist
The artists working with refugee youth under the ‘Artists for Refugees’ program included 7 refugees from Sudan, Somali, Burundi, Congo and one artist from the host community (Turkana).
Nairobi, Kenya, 8th August 2015 (UNHCR) – If anyone was to write a composition on ‘The Most Memorable Day in My Life’, the 8 artists from Kakuma, Turkana County in Kenya would have a winning piece. 8 August 2015 was cloudy and cold, but that did not dampen the spirit of these young artists who were in Nairobi, the only official curtain raisers for the legendary Octopizzo. He was launching his second music album “Long Distance Paper Chasers (LDPC)”, and he was determined that the 8, his protégés, would be his shining armour during this launch.
Henry Ohanga aka Octopizzo, is one of the artists working with refugee youth under the ‘Artists for Refugees’ program. The artists included 7 refugees from Sudan, Somali, Burundi, Congo and one artist from the host community (Turkana).
The artists were featured on radio (Kiss FM) and TV shows (The Trend on NTV and Alfajiri on K24) through live interviews alongside Octopizzo where they got an opportunity to have a feel of what the industry entails. ‘These are international artists from Kakuma and deserve the VIP treatment. That’s why they are the main curtain raisers at my album launch,’ Octopizzo said during one of the interviews.
Additionally, Octopizzo took the artists on a tour of Kibera, where he grew up and his main source of motivation. The aim of the tour was to give refugees hope that they too can make it. What was surprising was that most of the refugees said they preferred life in the camp as opposed to living in Kibera due to the hardship they witnessed.
The young artists also had a real studio experience during the rehearsals for their performances. ‘We hope to get an opportunity to record our albums very soon so as to show the world how talented we are despite being refugees,’ they said.
Artists for Refugees is a livelihood project by UNHCR which seeks to give refugees a voice and as well empowering them through music, art and sports.
This journey started in 2014 when the mentoring in conjunction with partner organization Film Aid started. This entailed a lot of training workshops in Kakuma with Octopizzo and Victor Ndula – a cartoonist and illustrator with The Star Newspaper.
By Caroline Opile, Public Information Associate, UNHCR