FORUS dancers achieve festival dream

FORUS is a dance group based at the Dzaleka refugee camp in northern Malawi. The group performed for the first time at the acclaimed Lake of Stars festival in Salima, Malawi last weekend.

NKOLE NKOLE, Salima, Malawi
THE Lake of Stars Malawi Arts Festival beach stage this year featured a range of rising acts or performers to look out for in the near future.
One of the stage’s star attractions last weekend was no doubt a group of boy dancers calling themselves FORUS (Force United Success) who packed such energy into their performance that festival goers kept shouting for an encore.
The group comprises six boys named Nelson Deogratias, Alaine Bonane, Princo Saleem, Ally Bulz, Toussaint Kib and Grace Marnu, who are originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and have been based at the Dzaleka refugee camp in northern Malawi for five years.
The boys all arrived in Malawi from the DRC at the same time and formed the group at the camp in 2015.
FORUS mainly perform to afro pop and dancehall music.
In an interview after the show, the group’s leader Nelson Deogratias said it had been a dream for them to perform at the festival and travelled for three hours from the camp to get to Salima where the festival was taking place.
Some of the boys came with their parents to the camp.
“In the camp, there are some refugees who don’t have anything to do and don’t go to school so that pushes a lot of kids into drug abuse and for us to avoid that we came together because we love dancing and came up with a dance group,” Deogratias explained.
The group first came into contact with the Lake of Stars management after a Malawian band called Zathu called out for dancers to audition and feature in the band’s first music video in 2016.
During the audition, the Lake of Stars management was so impressed by their dancing that it decided to consider them for future events.
At the Dzaleka camp, FORUS also teaches a dance class to younger kids who are also refugees and have shown interest in dancing.
They decided to start the class to encourage the younger kids in the camp who were being lured into drug and alcohol abuse.
Now that they have accomplished one dream, it is on to the next.
The boys enthusiastically shared that their biggest dream is to perform at some of the major festivals in the world, which include the famous Batalo Dance Festival held annually in Uganda.
Performing at the Lake of Stars Festival gave them just the right motivation to keep dreaming and the six boys are confidently aware that no matter the challenges they may face, there is yet hope.

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