Earlier this week, the media along with social entrepreneurs, activists and philanthropists came together at the Four Seasons Westcliff hotel in Johannesburg to meet the 10 famous faces chosen to champion the cause and amplify the voices of refugees all over the world.
Among those famous faces who will serve as ambassadors for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are the likes of Ayanda Mankayi, Ancillar Mangena, Anathi 'Anatii' Mnyango, Jason Goliath, Donovan Goliath, Nic Goliath, Tresor, Leanne Manas, Nomzamo Mbatha.
Manas was tasked with MC'ing the event, which was aimed at introducing the LuQuLuQu tribe to the world and mobilizing people to get behind the cause.
@LeanneManas introducing the @unhcr LuQuLuQu Tribe which she, @NomzamoMbatha, @ANATII, @tresorofficial are part of as ambassadors alongside other celebrities and influencers pic.twitter.com/TDi6Kbv6Lx— ZAlebs (@Zalebs) November 29, 2017
Over the past few months, each of the ambassadors flew to refugee camps in order to get first hand experience of the cause they would be championing and they all echoed Jason Goliath's sentiment about how they would not have understood the magnitude of the situation if they had not actually travelled to these camps.
Upon the initial announcement of her role as one of the UNHCR ambassadors, Mbatha, spoke on the importance of the cause, why she felt the need to come on board and how she felt the narrative needs to change.
"The call came at a time when my mind was already wrapped in making a difference through promotion of human welfare and social reform – speaking to the issues of tolerance of our different backgrounds and lending a helping hand in overcoming our various challenges. I was drawn to the cause mostly by seeing, daily, how African foreigners are received in our communities. Being a full time student at UCT, interacting with other students on campus has sensitized me to their struggles, even with the freedom of movement they have in South Africa, the experience is not of enjoyment as they are still living in fear, isolation and ridicule. That narrative needs to change to #ONEAFRICA,” said Mbatha.
She then delivered a moving speech following her trip to a refugee camp in Malawi and shared what she learned from it. Both Mbatha and Mnyango visited the Dzaleka encampment, near Lilongwe, Malawi, from 12-14 November 2017. The camp was originally built to house 9000, but has now tripled in size housing about 28 000.
The silence in the room is palpable as @NomzamoMbatha commands everyone's attention to share the message of the people she interacted with during her duties as a #DoItLuQuLuQu ambassador pic.twitter.com/pGv9ugdxtm— ZAlebs (@Zalebs) November 29, 2017
While at the camp, Mbatha ran her youth dialogues, with a major focus on young girls ( a cause that is very close to her heart), while Anatii ran music workshops.
Upon his appointment, Anatii said, “the cause has a personal effect on me, as I recall stories my grandmother still shares with us of her time in exile for over 20 years. Even in the comradeship of the African National Congress, they too lived in camps, and lived in fear of if and when their host nation would close its doors to them. Being displaced with nothing and no idea of if you’ll ever set foot in your home country, is unsettling even to the toughest mind. The spirit of tolerance, caring and sharing advocated by the #OneAfrica movement comes in at a time when we as Africans, especially as the youth of South Africa need to educate ourselves on those very values and to practice compassion towards one another and to use our power constructively.”
I am shocked and angered by the recent media reports of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libyan auctions. The Libyan authorities must take urgent steps to eradicate these abuses, and the international community must provide necessary support. https://t.co/PFO8Wt4L8x pic.twitter.com/kJNzOU1Jjx— Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) November 22, 2017
During Wednesday night's event, it was revealed that Mnyango and Tresor worked on a song together which they would be submitting as the tribe's official theme song and Mnyango also pledged to donate a music studio for the musically inclined residents of the camp to use to express themselves in song.
“It is a great honor as a producer to be entrusted to bring this issue to the forefront via artistic expression and engage the public on a grassroots level is one that I could not turn down and the best way is to start with music, a unifying and universal language. The song is not your typical call to action song or a recreation of any of those. It is fresh and speaks to the cause in the most current and trendiest way,” said Anatii about the song.
When it's raining and you have a car, that is your refuge. If you have money to catch a taxi or a bus, THAT is your refuge. If you have an umbrella, THAT is your refuge. If you have a home, THAT is your refuge. Imagine having NO place to go. NO asylum... NO refuge. #DoItLuQuLuQu— Nomzamo Mbatha (@NomzamoMbatha) November 29, 2017
The most moving speech of the evening had to be the speech delivered by award-winning musician, Tresor, who (after living as a refugee in South Africa 10 years) shared the real story behind his highly publicized refugee status which began when he lost both his parents at the age of 17 following the ripple effect that the Rwandan genocide had on the neighboring country of Congo (where he is originally from).
Tresor pleaded with the public to understand the situations that refugees find themselves in and to treat them with kindness and allow them to maintain the very little dignity they have left.
"And that is the aim of this campaign, to really reach people and make them understand that you don't want to break broken people even more," said a visibly emotional Tresor before adding "I am just grateful that I have the platform to be able to be able to express the feelings of hundreds of thousands of refugees because of what I do but there are people who have it worse and do not have the chance to let people know what they're going through."
He ended off by commenting on the slave crisis in Libya, stating "whatever change has to happen in the world needs to start with us and we need to look into ourselves more and start making the changes we need to see in the world everyday."
Those who wish to get behind the cause can SMS the word 'LuQuLuQu' to 42656 to donate R30 to the cause. Alternatively, you can click here to donate to the LuQuLuQu Tribe's cause or click here to get in touch with the UNHCR to find out how you can help. Follow the conversation on social media at #DoItLuQuLuQu
Main image credit: Supplied