Rare smiles swept the faces of Central African refugees in Gado-a refugee settlement in Cameroon’s east region recently.
Famous Cameroonian afro-pop star, Tohnain Anthony Nguo better known as Magasco had arrived. The 34-year-old was there to produce a music video clip with the refugees.
The song is entitled Ririri which in the Sango language that is widely spoken in the Central Africa Republic (CAR), means peace.
“It’s a great chance for us to have Magasco amongst us,” says Bok Kerany,
“Magasco is a great star, to see him isn’t easy. I am pleased that we have shot a video with him, and it gives me so much pleasure to feature in a video that will be watched throughout the world. It’s an opportunity for us the refugees.”
Bok Kerany,16, fled violence in the Central African Republic some years back and found refuge in Cameroon. Like many other children at the settlement, Kerany yearns to go to school. The UNHCR has been helping pay his school fee, but the rather large number of kids the UN body has to deal with means that the financial resources are becoming scarce. Kerany, therefore, has to struggle harder to pay his school fee.
“Life in the settlement is very, very difficult,” Kerany says.
“We weed people’s farms to survive. In the dry season, we make building blocks. Right now, even these menial jobs are not available.”
It’s a massive problem for young students, especially with schools having reopened for the 2022/23 academic year.
Kerany requires nearly 40 US dollars for his tuition, a sum not so easy to come by. Like thousands of her peers, the youngster has shown exceptional resilience.
It is that resilience that Magasco celebrates.
“The good thing about the refugees is that they are very hardworking,” Magasco says.
“They do business, they cultivate, they go into farming, raising animals, poultry…they are doing a lot of acuities to raise income and that is not just proving that they are not just waiting for help, they want people to partner with them so they could do greater things.”
The artist says the song, Ririri should be able to draw global attention to the problems and promises of refugees.
“This project should be like the eye the world can see through and understand a little more what is going on the ground so they can be part of it, they should feel for the people, for the refugees that live here. I would like to talk to our governments worldwide to pay more attention to refugees because every single second as we speak, refugees are adding worldwide, and they should pay more attention to how to manage these refugees. They are people like you and me. Anyone can become a refugee anyway.”
Cameroon is host to more than 290,000 Central African refugees who fled fighting in their country, leaving behind everything.
Some have returned in recent years, but pockets of violence have continued to drive many more Westwards into Cameroon.
Magasco and the refugees are now using music to push for a return to peace in their country.