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Malawi’s documentary to premiere on Al Jazeera

Malawi’s music documentary titled Trésor and the Camp Musicians will this Sunday premiere on Al Jazeera English from 23:30 CAT.

According to a press statement from Al Jazeera Africa PR, the documentary tells the inspiring story of Trésor Nzengu Mpauni (aka Menes), who successfully crowd-funded a collaborative album between leading Malawian musicians and Congolese refugees – all from a refugee camp in Malawi where the 20 000 inhabitants aren’t legally allowed to work, or even to leave the camp without permission.

Trésor, who has been involved in several arts events and is currently working with Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) lives at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which has grown from a collection of tents in 1994 into a big village, but still depends on monthly food deliveries from the World Food Programme to survive.

The statement says like 500 000 other refugees around the world and most of the people at Dzaleka, Trésor fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As an up-and-coming musician and slam poet there, he became a victim of repeat attacks after performing a poem that spoke of the political situation in the country at that time, “of being dominated by war and dictatorship.”

University-educated and relatively privileged for most of his life, Trésor initially struggled to adapt to life in Dzaleka, until he discovered the camp was home to a wealth of musical talent, and even someone who made guitars.

Determined that the skills within Dzaleka should not be wasted, Trésor approached Malawian artists, including hip hop star Third Eye, to collaborate on an album with the refugees, with the aim of fighting against xenophobia and challenging stereotypes through music.

Directed by South African Neil Shaw, Trésor and the Camp Musicians is a remarkable testimony to the power of the internet to uplift communities, and of how global platforms like Indiegogo and iTunes are creating new opportunities for artists in Africa.

According to the press statement, the documentary is also a reminder of the power of music, to heal and to unite.

Kano, the refugee guitarist on the album, fled the DRC after his parents were killed.

He says in the movie:

“When I sing, it helps me forget what happened in my country. This music gives me something beautiful, refreshes me, and makes me feel human.”

Tresor and the Camp Musicians premieres on Sunday, on Witness, Al Jazeera’s observational documentary strand, with additional screenings on 20 July at 10:30; July 21 at 04:30, July 22 at 17:30 and finally July 24 at 06:30.

Tresor was very excited yesterday that the documentary will screen on Al Jazeera and called on Malawians to take time and sample it.

“I am happy that the documentary will screen on Al Jazeera and I hope people will take time to sample it,” he said.

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