YUMBE. For about 5 years since the coming of the South Sudan refugees to Yumbe in 2016, a section of the youths talented in music have been looking for ways of how they can record and produce songs in the settlement.

This to some extent led to fading of music talent among the youths in Bidibidi refugee settlement due to lack of equipment to support their music industry.

But there is a reason to smile among the music lovers as music connect through Brass for Africa has donated music Lab for Bidibidi refugee settlement.

During the launch of the music Lab at the Basecamp on Monday, Mr Denis Lomuding Alias Lonely Buay, a local artist in the camp said since life was not good in the settlement, he started engaging in music.

He said when Bidibidi got talent was introduced, he got interested and was able to show his talent in music where he was identified as the best local artist in the settlement.

"My good performance in music gave me hope, built my resilience and confidence. Right now, I am able to perform in a large crowd", he said.

"We had been facing a lot of challenges in music in the settlement because of lack of equipment to record songs, shoot videos. We had been going to places like Arua and Koboko which were very costly in terms of transport, accommodation and sometimes power interrupts the businesses", he added.

He said due to the presence of the Music Lab through the struggle of Brass for Africa and Music connect, other expenses they used to incur will be reduced because they are going to have music for free in the settlement.

Music Luanch

Ms Joy Brenda Meling, a music lover said the absence of learning in schools due to the lockdown has impacted negatively on the lives of the young ones.

Meling said she likes music because it relieves her from stress and that during this period of lockdown it keeps her busy.

"The equipment is going to keep us busy with the friends in the different music groups and this will prevent us from teenage pregnancy and getting married early", she said.

Ms Annette Davidson, a board member from music connect in Germany said, the equipment was supplied following the concept they wrote at Bidibidi refugee settlement in 2019.

"We got to know that there are so many talents and so many traumatized people who talked to us that they really need help to express themselves through music. We had to bring in music from Africa and asked for some money which was given by the German government to this course", she said.

"We bought a music track and built it with all the equipment needed. The track has all the equipment with good recording studios, computers for learning, cinema, instruments like guitars, keyboards, Brassbands among others", she added.

She said the music Lab cost 250,000 Euros and part of the money was used to provide jobs to keep the equipment running.

The executive director and founder of Brass for Africa Mr Jim Trott said, they use music along with integrated life skills programs to create a bright future for the young people.

"When music connect came to us with the fantastic facility of the Lab, we were excited and teamed up with them to provide this incredible facility with recording studios, production, video editing among others. We complemented this with a team of dedicated and talented young Ugandan music teachers who will be helping the young refugees struggling to find opportunities", he said.

He said there are a lot of jobs in music in production, recording, editing and playing the instruments and urged the young ones to invest in music to earn a living.

Dr Okhan Nasibov, the head of UNHCR Yumbe sub-office said it's yet the first time to receive such professional equipment in the settlement and that music is one of the ways to bring Bidibidi refugee settlement to life.

He said Bidibidi is a young camp established in 2016 with about 232,000 refugees and it still has a lot of ways to grow and establish itself.

"There are many talents in the camp but they didn't have the way out. We are hopeful that the music equipment will help to fix the gaps that existed in the settlement", he said.

"We are trying to make an effort to make people use different opportunities to stop bad behaviours. I hope music will open new borders for the refugees with their talents and they can grow in different directions within the music world", Orkhan added.

He said music has a big value not only to the refugees but for every one in the world where it boosts the spirit of a person and open borders.

Ms Mariam Nakasango, the community services assistant in the office of the prime Minister said they lacked means of communicating to the refugees.

She said, the equipment is going to help them a lot in sensitisation campaigns in the settlement because cases of Sex Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and teenage pregnancies have gone up in the settlement.

"This is going to be a platform where the refugees will come up and communicate issues that affect them. They can compose songs, poems and stage drama to pass their messages which can also act as a way of advocacy to address their issues", she said.

Official OPM

Mr Charles Geriga, the RWC 3 chairperson for Bidibidi zone two settlement said music is power and that through music, the society can get transformed.

"If the youths can compose peace related songs, religious songs and songs that make them reform from drug abuse, it's much recommended and that will make the community to get transformed", he said.

He said, there is need for them as the leaders to offer guidance about the types of songs the youths will compose/sing because others may sing anyhow and cause problems.