Tumaini dreams big


Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa was the centre of attraction on Saturday as it, again, hosted the fourth edition of free annual Tumaini Festival.

Created by Menes La Plume, real name Tresor Nzengu Mpauni, Tumaini— which in Swahili means hope— continues to bring people from all walks of life together through art.

People at Dzaleka Refugee Camp and those surrounding the camp have become used to this annual gathering which also facilitates trade as people make a kill by selling different items.


By midday, Dzaleka was crowded as people were running up and down to watch different performances on stages such as Elikya, Cultural Ground and Kwizera, as well as theatre and poetry corners.

Apart from sampling different performances, people also had time to appreciate different foods.

Festivals surely have to have several stages, apart from the main stage, and Tumaini had Elikya as the main stage.


The festival, which was supported by several partners, showed its professionalism as performances run according to schedule.

Of course, there were some setbacks, especially on the Kwizera Stage due to some technical glitches at some point, but the acts went nicely and people made their own choices, in terms of which acts to watch.

On the Elikya Stage, the audience were treated to performances by Breath of Life, Keros Live Music Band, Fusion Africa, Bombe Celeste, Ernest Ikwanga, Anniemarie Quinn from the United Kingdom, Waliko Makhala, The Classmates, Find Codi, Etoile de la Paix, Lyco and Kaka Furaha from Japan, Mubanga Band— which has members from Lusubilo Band— and Tay Grin, who closed the chapter.

Most of the performances were live, except for a few that used a CD with a DJ on set.

Tay Grin was one of the artists who used a CD, with DJ Nathan Tunes manning the decks. Hazel Mak of the ‘Liyaya’ fame was also supported by DJ Nathan Tunes.

However, Tay Grin’s set was lively as he was supported by Salama Africa Dance Crew, which has build its brand after being unearthed through the Times Group’s Ka Jive Dance competition.

On the Cultural Ground, people mostly enjoyed traditional dances which included Rwandese Dance, Asafa, Chisamba, Mganda, Gule Wamkulu, Hear Us Children, Salama Africa and Amahoro Drummers, who have always stunned people with the way they play the drums.

On the Kwizera Stage, which is close to the houses of refugees, people sampled the acts of Motivation Stars, Zathu Band, Mbanaye Code Sangala and Malala, among others.

The theatre and poetry corners brought performances from the likes of Solomonic Peacocks, which staged an old play, Chanco Travelling Theatre, Dzaleka Drama and Robert Chiwamba.

Menes said he was happy that the festival was growing every year.

“I am happy. The festival is growing every year. The attendance was, as usual, impressive, which shows that the festival is having an impact. I am grateful to all the partners for the support,” Menes said.

He said he was satisfied with the impact of the festival on people.

“Tumaini has promoted refugees as human beings and Dzaleka Refugee Camp has been on the map on the arts scene since we started,” the founder said.

Having lived at Dzaleka Refugee Camp for nine years, the poet, musician and writer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said life is difficult in the camp.

“There are many things that we miss but there is also alot of talent. But, even with all the challenges, there is hope and that is why I started Tumaini and chose to focus on the positives and not negatives,” Menes said.

He added that they are dreaming big next year, as they want to run a two-day festival.

“2017 is gone. Now we are looking at a two-day festival where people will spend a night and enjoy more. We are thinking of putting up accommodation so that people can come and learn from families and live with new experience,” he said.

Musician Sam Shaba said the festival is improving every year and that it had exciting performances.

Music Crossroads Malawi Director, Mathews Mfune, whose organisation sponsored one of the stages and put up equipment, said the festival is a unique platform that brings together artists, who mostly perform for free.

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