Dadaab – Mujumbere, a Burundian refugee came to Kenya in 2016 to avoid prosecution after authorities accused him of producing inciteful music. He found himself in the sprawling Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya where he later set up a music studio to nurture the musical talents of other refugees. He has trained more than 130 young musicians to date.
Deng, a 34-year-old father of four arrived in Dadaab after fleeing conflict in South Sudan. His dreams of pursuing higher education were shattered following the civil unrest which broke out there in 2013. Deng was studying in Juba at the time. He got separated from his siblings and mother for several months, but eventually reunited in Dadaab Refugee Camp.
Yulaga, popular referred to by his peers as “Gaga the King” also fled the civil war in South Sudan. Ever since, he has been using music to advocate for peace in South Sudan and the Horn of Africa and the world. Community radio stations in Dadaab Refugee Camp often play his songs. His song, “Put the gun down” is receiving significant airplay.
Majuimbere, Yulaga, and Deng are among refugees from South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia who recently came together, in Dadaab Refugee Camp, to attend a pre-departure Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) session. Over a period of three days, they received information that will empower them to transition, adapt, and eventually integrate into the Canadian society.
They beamed with hope and are looking forward to a fresh start after facing and overcoming numerous challenges in search of a place, they could call “home”.
“I will leave my studio to trainee producers who have been volunteering their time. I want them to continue the work that I have started and hope that many more musicians will come to our music studio. I look forward to resettling in Canada and pursuing my dream of becoming a music producer. My children will get a good education too,” said Mujumbere.
His wife, Ntakirutiamana has been working as a cleaner with the UN Refugee Agency and they are both happy to be relocating to Canada.
Deng, on the other hand, is planning to be a lawyer. He intends to join university in Canada soon.
“I am excited to be moving to Canada with eight of my family members. I have suffered the anguish of separation from loved ones. We will now be together to navigate our integration to a new country” he exclaimed.
Yulgaga is also living with a disability and hope that he will finally find the opportunity to study music.
“Mujumbere has been producing my music. I am happy he is also going to Canada. I know that together, we will make my music international,” exclaimed Yulgaga. He also wants to advocate for the rights of people living with a disability like himself.
IOM’s Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) is a global programme delivering pre-departure orientation and information to refugees in 90 countries prior to their resettlement to Canada. It is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is implemented by IOM since 1998.
In-person sessions, such as the one delivered in Dadaab Refugee Camp, consist of groups of approximately 25 participants aged 13 years and above. The sessions are interactive and accessible to all through various training modalities, platforms and tools and the materials are available in different languages. Sessions draw from participant’s experiences. Participants also receive a COA Participant Workbook (available in 17 languages) covering various topics such as travel preparation, initial settlement and life in Canada.