KAKUMA (Xinhua) --
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and
partners late on Saturday awarded cash prizes to several young
refugees in Kakuma, the second largest refugee camp in Kenya,
for harnessing performing arts to advance peace, unity and
Hundreds of young
refugee artists participated in the fifth edition of Kakuma’s
Got Talent, from Thursday to Saturday, o help showcase their
prowess in music, dance, comedy, modelling and photography.
The overall winners
in each category scooped 20,000 Kenyan shillings (200 U.S
dollars) for their ability to use arts as an avenue for
transforming livelihood of refugees.
head of the UNHCR sub-office in Kakuma, said this year’s arts
competition for young refugees set the bar higher in terms
diversity, talent and content.
The UNHCR and
several charity organizations organized the three-day
competition at Kakuma.
The refugee camp,
located in northwestern Kenya, hosts over 186,000 refugees
mainly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Charles Iria, senior
protection officer at Lutheran World Federation, said “the core
objective of Kakuma’s Got Talent show is to inspire refugee
children and youth to engage in constructive activities and
escape from the trap of social ills like drug abuse and crime.”
He noted that
several young refugee artists who once lived in Kakuma have now
joined the global entertainment circuit while serving as role
models to their peers.
Almasi Gerald, a
member of a troupe from the Democratic Republic of Congo that
bagged the top prize in the dance category, said he looked
forward to headline major shows in Kenya and across the region
to generate additional income and gain exposure.
“We are using dance
to rebuild our lives and are determined to have a breakthrough
in terms of recording high resolution videos and attracting
corporate sponsorship,” said Almasi. .
Kenya’s second largest refugee
camp becomes melting pot for artistic talent and integration
KAKUMA (Xinhua) --
Moses Omar and his childhood friend Ismail Jama
relished a thunderous ululation from the audience after belting
out a captivating hit during a singing contest held at Kenya’s
second largest refugee camp of Kakuma late Friday.
The rhythm and blues
(R&B) duet headlined the fifth edition of Kakuma’s Got Talent
competition that sought to showcase the abundant artistic talent
possessed by youngsters from strife-torn neighboring countries
who live at the sprawling camp located in Kenya’s north western
county of Turkana.
Omar and Ismail are
originally from Somalia but have lived in Kakuma refugee camp
since childhood where they forged a strong bond thanks to shared
ancestry and passion for music.
“We left Somalia
with our parents because of the violence but have found a
sojourn here in Kakuma where our dream of becoming international
artists is slowly being realized,” 26-year-old Omar told
journalists on the sidelines of peace center where Kakuma’s Got
Talent 2018 edition was held.
Popularly known as
the Two Brothers in the local entertainment scene, Omar and
Ismail have boundless energy, passion and optimism that has
inspired the upcoming generation of refugee artists who reside
The singing duo
revealed they have benefited from benevolence of successful
Kenyan hip hop artists who have mentored them while inviting
them to headline concerts in Nairobi and other big towns.
“We are delighted to
have such a devoted fan base within Kakuma and other parts of
Kenya. Our livelihood is purely dependent on music. We compose
lyrics that seek to inspire young refugees to dream amid
setbacks that hover around their lives,” said 23-year-old Jama.
Hundreds of young
refugee performing artists ranging from musicians, dancers,
models and comedians turned up for the fifth edition of Kakuma’s
Got Talent show whose overriding goal is to give them a new
lease of life and facilitate their integration into host
Aza Nsabimana, a
23-year-old R&B artist who is originally from Burundi has found
her voice thanks to a singing career that has exposed her to new
The mother of one,
who became an accomplished R&B artist two years ago, has
composed songs that spread the message of love, peace, unity and
(Xinhua) -- A participant takes part in a
fashion show competition during the 5th
Edition of Kakuma Got Talent finals at Kakuma Refugee
Camp in Kakuma, Kenya, Dec. 8, 2018. The United Nations
Refugee Agency and partners late on Saturday awarded
cash prizes to several young refugees in Kakuma, the
second largest refugee camp in Kenya, for harnessing
performing arts to advance peace, unity and
XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES
“My desire is to let
the entire world discover that refugees are endowed with talents
that can be harnessed to transform humanity. I have performed in
refugee camps and other formal settings and the audience has
been very receptive to my songs,” said Nsabimana whose stage
name is Mlay.
Her vocals and
gyrating moves on stage electrified the young audience as the
fifth edition of Kakuma’s Got Talent competition cruised to the
final stage amid display of artistic prowess by young refugees.
Victoria Goretti, an
18-year-old upcoming R&B artist from Uganda who settled in
Kakuma refugee camp with her aunt seven years ago, said she felt
honored to be given a chance to perform at the annual talent
“This is my first
time to participate in a singing competition and I feel
privileged to meet big names in rap and hip hop whose
inspiration was behind my desire to take up singing,” said
“We are lucky as
refugees to have an opportunity to showcase our talents to the
rest of the world. Music and dance have a healing power to the
dispossessed,” She added.
The sprawling Kakuma
refugee camp that was established in 1992 is home to over
186,000 refugees from 19 different nationalities while majority
are from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Young people aged
12-25 years old who comprise 36 percent of the population inside
Kenya’s second largest refugee camp, are at the heart of ongoing
integration efforts spearheaded by multilateral agencies.
The United Nations
Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and partners have since 2015 rallied
behind an initiative to nurture artistic talents among the
Kakuma youth as a means to provide them with alternative sources
of livelihood and help them assimilate with local hosts.
So far, more than
700 young people living in Kakuma refugee camp have undergone
auditions for various genres of performing arts including music,
modelling, photography and dancing.
The fifth edition of
Kakuma talent show stood out in terms of high number of
participants as well as sophistication, glamour and elegance.
Chang Kuoth, a
20-year-old high school student who fled turmoil in South Sudan
with his mother and siblings, was in his element when he was
invited to perform dancehall reggae tune in front of an ecstatic
“I felt relieved as
the audience sang along to my tune and look forward to composing
new songs that convey the message of peace, love and solidarity
to fellow refugees.” said Kuoth.