Back home, I would be recognised wherever I walked. If you know music in South Sudan, then you know me. I think my success is because the themes of my songs always focus on peace, love and unity.
Yes, I am blind, but that does not make any difference. Perhaps, if I was not blind I would never have become a musician. Perhaps I never would have learnt to play the Thom (a wooden banjo-like instrument from the Upper Nile region).
31 years ago, I decided that I would be a musician and I am sticking by that career choice today. This is my skill, my passion and a performance of my culture; it is very important to not leave your culture behind. I miss playing my songs live to the Nuer community, but unfortunately politicians and their wars have destroyed much of South Sudan and taken the lives of so many of my friends. When you come to another country seeking asylum, it’s not because you don’t love your country, it’s because you have no choice.
When people come to Australia seeking asylum, they are very stressed, dealing with trauma and separation from family in a new foreign land. I believe that it takes a community to help someone feel safe again. Through comfort, counselling and feeling welcome, people seeking asylum can rebuild their lives, maybe find a job and start to feel normal again – it takes a lot of love.
Soon I will release the 11th album of my career, made with the support of many new friends and with help from the Australian record label, Music in Exile. I think I have already played about twenty shows this year and there’s a lot of exciting gigs and festivals coming up. This next album, titled ‘Unity’, has some songs like ‘Asylum Seeker’ that I have written to give hope to all people seeking safety. I still need that hope myself as I have not hugged my children in four years. With that hope, I can trust that we will be united together soon.
Peace, love and unity – that’s what the world needs.
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