Trésor Nzengu Mpauni commonly known as ‘Menes la Plume’ is a slam poet who came to Malawi in 2008 as a political refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Upon arriving at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa district, 45 kilometres from Lilongwe, Menes formed Tumaini Letu organization aimed at promoting cultural exchange among refugees.
Dzaleka is the only permanent refugee camp in Malawi. It has a population of approximately 28,000 refugees and asylum seekers from mainly the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi with smaller numbers of people from Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and other countries.
Since Dzaleka was established in 1994, there had never been a large event organized which centered on the needs of refugees as human, social, and expressive beings.
In November 2014, Menes introduced Dzaleka’s first arts and cultural festival called Tumaini Festival. Tumaini’ is a Swahili word which means ‘Hope’.
Tumaini Festival has presented a unique opportunity to support an innovative cultural event, developed and delivered by refugees and Malawians to promote intercultural harmony through entertainment and artistic expression.
Since it’s inception, Tumaini festival has proved to be one of the fastest growing festivals in the country. Last year, the Festival attracted over 30,000 people from across the world and the number is expected to increase this year.
Tumaini Festival has also united different nationalities of performers from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Belgium, UK, Italy and South Korea.
So far, the festival has gained national and international media coverage and it has achieved a media reach estimated at 40,000,000 people worldwide, presenting a genuinely different and positive story about refugees.
Apart from discovering new and raw talents from the camp who share the stage with global superstars, the festival also aims at bringing joy and hopes to refugees and also promotes the refugee camp as a place of unity, peace, coexistence and harmony.
Through the home stay initiative during the Festival, interested visitors are encouraged to come and stay in refugee houses and share the experience with people at Dzaleka, however, this year, the organizers have limited the number of visitors to 400.
Furthermore, just to emphasize the significance and relevance of the Festival to the international community, the organizers have managed to raise more than K12 million from 128 contributors through it’s online crowd funding campaign.
Trésor continues with his poetry journey, even as a refugee he still performs advocating for refugee rights and peace in Africa. He has performed at several festivals including the 2013 City of Stars, 2014 and 2015 Lake of Stars and Mwezi Wa Wala festivals.