Menes la Plume
Where:City Arsenal, Cieszyńskiego 9
The popular hip-hop musician and poet from the Democratic Republic of the Congo –Menes la Plume – and a political refugee living in a refugee camp in Malawi – Trésor Nzengu Mpauni – are one person. Today he works with African refugees and treats art as a tool to fight for human rights.
Menes la Plume, a renowned musician and performer of poetry slams, as a member of the Congolese cultural elite, tried, as he says himself, to open his fellow countrymen’s eyes to the brutal reality of his country. The regime decided that he threatens the authorities so he had to save himself and flee. That is how he found himself in a refugee camp in Dzaleka in Malawi. Thousands of refugees from Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and other African countries affected by conflicts and poverty endlessly wait there for a better future, even in distant America or Europe. In this extremely difficult environment, full of hopelessness, frustration and violence, the former celebrity experienced a life he had not experienced before. Starting with no place to sleep – in Dzaleka he shared his room with 13 other refugees.
Living in suspense, without a chance to earn money or to freely leave the camp, he suffered six months of depression. He overcame it helping other castaways like him thanks to the only cure he knew: his artistic work. He teamed up with other artists in the camp. It all began with making music together and ended up with organizing the only international music festival in a refugee camp – Tumaini Festival. Every year the best musicians from Malawi, as well as foreign stars, join forces with the artists from Dzaleka. Camp dwellers work on the production and service of the event (from food stalls to selling arts and crafts). For a moment they can break away from their difficult life, but above all they can develop their self-esteem and gain an incentive to take the initiative.
Menes la Plume also returned to the stage, and his poetry and music were appreciated in Malawi. He works in French, English, Swahili and Lingala, drawing inspiration from the experiences of the refugees. He tells about experiencing loss, stagnation, homelessness and waiting for a chance to make a new beginning. In 2015, thanks to crowdfunding, he released his poetic album Far from Home. He often performs with his refugee friends – musicians and singers. Since he got a diplomatic passport in 2016, he can also present his artistic work abroad. In Wrocław he will play with Malawian artists. He is not afraid to shock his audience during his concerts – he bluntly talks about the trauma of living in exile and about a divided world. He shows refugees as people like us, forced by fate, politics or history to function in a dead-end situation which they cannot influence.