The Tumaini Festival

By Alicy Munde

The Tumaini Festival is an annual event that is held every November. It is a unique cultural celebration that aims to foster intercultural harmony, mutual understanding, and peaceful coexistence in Dzaleka Refugee Camp and the surrounding areas. What makes this festival truly fascinating is that people from outside the refugee camp also attend, and I am one of those who willingly dedicate my time to be part of this beautiful event from the day I got to know about it.

My first encounter with the Tumaini Festival was in 2022, and it left a lasting impression on me. The event provided me with an opportunity to witness performances by some of my favorite Malawian artists like Eli Njuchi, Gwamba, and Wikise. The performances of these artists were amazing. I saw Eli Njuchi’s songs were so heart touching and they almost made me cry but I remembered it was time for enjoyment. However, his songs made me emotional due to his lyrics. Gwamba and Wikise’s performances got everyone dancing, including me.

Being there with a big crowd, all enjoying the music felt really so special. This day was extraordinary to me. I saw a view where everyone forgets about their worries and focus on enjoying. It was an unforgettable experience, one that kept me so distracted that I lost track of time and forgot that I needed to return home. Fortunately, I was accompanied by my close friends, Lucy and Monica, which reassured me that nothing untoward could happen to me.

The festival had a multitude of attractions that captured my attention. Among them was the delicious Nyamachoma, a fast food that was nothing short of fascinating. Pairing it with Chapatti Mayai made it even more delicious. The Nyamachoma was my favorite. It is this tasty fast food that’s savory. It is a meat that is cut into small pieces and put on meat sticks to get fried. when I had it with Chapatti Mayai, it was even better. The Chapatti Mayai is like a mix of chapatti and fried eggs. In that moment, I wished the festival could last a month, just so I could taste that meal every day without worrying about the availability of money. It was a delightful experience that brought a smile to my face.

As 2023 approaches, I am eagerly anticipating the next Tumaini Festival, which is scheduled to take place from the 2nd to the 4th of November. I can’t hold my excitement at the thought of indulging in my favorite fast food and witnessing live performances by talented artists once more. The festival holds a special place in my heart because it serves as a beacon of hope for the hopeless.

Living in a refugee camp can often lead to a sense of hopelessness as one cope with being far from their homeland. However, the Tumaini Festival has the remarkable ability to transform this perspective of hope. During the event, many refugees temporarily forget their worries and find solace in the joy and unity it brings.

In a world where refugees often face daunting challenges and uncertainties, the Tumaini Festival stands as a testament to the power of culture, entertainment, and art to bridge divides and nurture a sense of belonging. It reminds us that despite our differences and difficult circumstances, we can come together, celebrate life, and create memories that last a lifetime.

The Tumaini Festival is not just an event. It is a symbol of resilience, unity, and the enduring human spirit. As the 2023 edition approaches, I eagerly await the chance to once again be a part of this wonderful celebration, to indulge in the delicious Nyamachoma and Chapatti Mayai, and to relish the hope and joy it brings to all who attend.

17 November, 2023