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Democratic Republic of Congo
24 years old
Giresse Ino gathered musicians on 2, August, 2022 to be documented for this project
Biography collected by Lisa Gilman and written by Asa Sutton and Lisa Gilman

Daniel has only been in Dzaleka for about a year, having fled danger in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since long before that, though, he has been playing the guitar, which he learned from his older brother, who was a musician trained at a music school. When they were living in the Congo, the two performed together, playing salsa, zouk, and reggae, though they focused on Congolese genres. His brother was the soloist, and he played guitar in the band.

Daniel came to Dzlaka with seven other people, including his younger brother, who is a drummer. They all live together in a small house. When he fled Congo, Daniel was separated from his older brother and his parents. He does not know where they are.

In the camp, Daniel explained that there is a great deal of talent, but not much in the way of hope or opportunities. There are very few resources for making music. At this point, he is just playing in order to keep his skills sharp. He does not have a guitar of his own. When he can borrow one, he plays either acoustic or electric. He sometimes plays at church, and he performed at the Tumaini Festival in a band that needed a guitar player. He once had the opportunity to play in a church in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital.

Asked how he makes money, he answered, “I am in a camp,” a response that poignantly alludes to how few opportunities there are. He hopes to make money from his music, though he believes that this is unlikely to happen. His performances are at churches or other venues, both in and out of the camp, and he has mostly not received payment.When he plays in churches and asks for payment, they tell him that he is playing for God so doesn’t need compensation.

Asked what he wants people who visit the website or read the book to know, he answered, “Somewhere, there is a little country called Malawi. In the country, there is a refugee camp. In the camp, there is talent. People in the camp need help: morale, financial, the opportunity to get known better. The talent in the camp is almost lost. If you want to help, if you have passion for what we’ve experienced. The talent is there, but the conditions don’t allow us to achieve all that we can.”