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The Sudanese have more fun: World Refugee Day

June 19, 2012

June 20th is World Refugee Day so today we joined refugees and others working with them in Addis Ababa for a day of recognition of their situations and celebration of their cultures.  The day was mostly happy, with music, dancing and even a fashion show.

Of course there was also some sadder points, the most striking was a play put on by a group of refugees portraying a typical refugee family’s story. It started with a family at home and all of the sudden an armed group came in – the striking thing was that the looks on the faces, their movements, nothing seemed like a play, watching people depict this when they’ve actually gone through it was jarring. The way they held the guns and shook each other, with a sad comfort that no actor could do justice, it was a very sad scene.

Seems from the play depicting a refugee family’s experience.

After the play we were all ready for something a little lighter.

First there was a fashion show with traditional  clothing from the home countries of the refugees here in Addis; Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and of course, Somalia.

Next came traditional music and dancing from each group.  First the Sudanese came on and it was so lively I thought, oh the Sudanese definitely have more fun…

…but then, from the group I least expected it…I learned a completely new side to Somali Culture…After welcoming one after another beautiful, quiet, robe-covered women at the UNHCR I was not prepared for the wave of Somali refugees that crowded on stage and overtook the traditional dancers when their traditional music came on.

It was really touching, having heard so many of their stories that you expect would be nothing less than soul-crushing and to see them all having a blast together, seemingly completely carefree, was a beautiful sight.

A dance group from the Great Lakes region.


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