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Duke University Arts


Nov 1, 2011

African Refugees Focus of Musical Performance and Film Screening


Two November events will focus on refugee issues as part of "Uprooted, Rerouted: Stories of African Refugees Losing and Finding Home," a series produced by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.
Both events are free and open to the public. 
South Sudanese musician Emmanuel Jal, formerly a child soldier, will deliver a musical and spoken word performance. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1, in the Bryan Center's Reynolds Auditorium. Pre-release CDs of his upcoming album, "See Me Mama" will be available for sale and signing after the performance.
Jal thought he was escaping war in Southern Sudan when he joined thousands of young boys headed to Ethiopia. Instead, he was recruited into the Sudan People's Liberation Army as a child soldier. After several years, Jal fled to another part of Sudan. A British aid worker there helped smuggle him to Kenya, where he worked to put his childhood behind him through music and charitable work. He has since released 10 albums, mostly hip hop, featuring tracks in Arabic, English, Swahili, Dinka and Nuer. Jal will perform tracks from several of his albums accompanied by a three-piece band, and will intersperse spoken-word pieces between songs.
On Nov. 8, "The Letter," an award-winning 2003 documentary about Somali refugees living in Lewiston, Me., will be screened at 7 p.m. at the Nasher Museum of Art. Filmmaker Ziad Hamzeh will attend and discuss issues raised in the film. A reception will follow. 
"The Letter" tells the story of 1,100 Somalis who fled during the country's 1993 civil war, resettling in urban slums before eventually relocating to Maine in 1999 in search of better lives. In October 2002, the Lewiston mayor sent a letter to Somali leaders predicting fewer available social services should more Somalis relocate to the town. Hamzeh's film documents pro- and anti-Somali sentiment in Lewiston.
The events are designed to raise awareness on campus about refugee issues in advance of the 2011-12 winter forum, "Refugees, Rights, Resettlement," hosted by the Kenan Institute. The annual student forum will take place in January. 
Jal's performance is co-sponsored by the African and African American Studies department, the Center for African and African American Research, and the Duke Center for Civic Engagement. For more information on these events, visit the Kenan Institute for Ethics website. 


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