Kenya’s Octopizzo to launch new album featuring refugee artists

On 3 December, Kenyan hip-hop artist Octopizzo will launch a new album alongside various artists from refugee camps that he has been working with under the Refugee Art Project.

Kenyan artist Octopizzo. Photo: Octopizzo Facebbok Page
Kenyan artist Octopizzo. Photo: Octopizzo Facebbok Page

The album Dubbed Refugeenius, which is a first of its kind, is a compilation of 18 gospel and secular songs, all written and performed by refugee artists from the DRC, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan. On 22 November Octopizzo released the single ‘Flalala’ off the album.

Over the past two years, Octopizzo has been working with the artists who live in the Dadaab Refugee Camp complex, Kakuma Camp and Nairobi. The Project is funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and implemented by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). 

“Through the song (‘Flalala’) Maumau of Somalia and South Sudan artist Happy J,  urge leaders of their home countries to respect the flag, which is a symbol of peace,” Octopizzo told Music In Africa via email.

Octopizzo says the album title came about as a result of many people seeing refugees as a problem.

“The word refugee itself now has negative connotations around the world, yet there are many positive things that people seeking asylum can do to support the host country at large, music is one way that these people who seek asylum can impact the communities where they are welcome.”

The album, Octopizzo says, is a way for people around the world to embrace those who seek asylum.  Refugeenius is a way to bring out what the positive side of the word and to help people stop thinking that those who seek asylum are a threat. Worldwide, we are all refugees because we migrated from different places to settle where we are today. The “ni” in the word is Swahili for us. Thus Refugee-ni-us  'ni" generally implies  Refugees are us, Octopizzo explains.

To date, a total of 133 artists have participated in the music project whose aim is to nurture the talent that exists in the refugee camps and also mentor youth so that they are able to attain sustainable livelihoods through their talents. Besides the album, the event, which will be held at the Prestige Plaza in Nairobi, will serve as the launch for of 14 music videos of the songs and will also feature art exhibitions by refugees. 

Describing the Refugeenius album as a collection of masterpieces that will hook and blow audiences away, Octopizzo opines that the intensely creative cinematography, directing and performance by the artists bring the songs to life in a way that will impress audiences again and again.

 “This album is a celebration of their human wealth and the genius behind the enterprise and innovation that we see in refugee camps all over the world. It is a statement that they are people like us,” Octopizzo says.

For more information about the launch visit Octopizzo’s Facebook Page.


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