The Tumaini Arts Festival is an unexpected ray of hope for the residents of the Malawi’s Dzaleka refugee camp.

Founded by Menes La Plume from Congo, the festival hopes that by showcasing the creative talents of the refugees, people’s perception of them can be changed for the better. Tumaini is Swahili for ‘hope’, and this is what La Plume aims to spread through the festival. Now in its second year, this event brings musicians, poets and dancers together, and this year had 18 acts.


It’s organised as a sister event to the Lake of Stars, an extremely popular beach festival in the area. More than 3,000 people attended the Tumaini Arts Festival this year. La Plume also emphasises the importance for people to not think of refugee camps as bleak, miserable places. He says,“As a refugee [myself] I try to make myself a voice for the voiceless. Every time I hear people complain, I become a channel through which they can get their message to a broader audience.”


The Dzaleka camp was founded in 1994 to house the thousands who fled the genocide in Rwanda, and the wars in the DRC and Burundi. Some of these refugees were actually the artists and part of bands that performed at Tumaini, such as Babu Bebe, the Amahoro drummers, and many more. There were also other brilliant Malawian acts, like George Kalukusha. Dzaleka had generators imported specially for the festival, and there were even makeshift bars serving Carlsberg across the camp!