The Dzaleka Art Project book and website is a product of a collaborative and community-based effort by young artists living in the camp, me (a Professor of Folklore and English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia in the United States), and graduate and undergraduate students at George Mason University.
Six young artists living in the camp make up the Dzaleka team who dedicated time in 2022-2023 identifying artists and art groups within the camp. Each team leader took charge of documenting the arts and artists for one category. The Team Leader for Music is Congolese gospel singer Giresse Ino, Visual Arts and Crafts is Congolese painter Serge Kasongo, Dance is Congolese popular dancer Nellyson_Deo, Poetry is Rwandan poet Angela Azibera, Photography is Congolese photographer Luanda Bauma Primo, and Inspirational Stories is Burundian Divine Irakoze. While “Inspirational Stories” includes stories about non-artists as well as artists, the team agreed with Divine that these stories were important to include. Biographies and photographs for the team leaders can be found at the beginning of the section that each took the lead on.
Team leaders identified artists and then collected and wrote short biographies for each. They took pictures of art, collected poetry, recorded performances, and otherwise found ways of sharing the work.
The US-based team collaborated with the Dzaleka team to prepare the materials for the website and book. George Mason University undergraduate Sulaiman Fofanah worked on the project from its inception and contributed to all steps. Originally, the project was just going to be only a book. Sulaiman, who is majoring in website development, was excited to take the lead in creating the website. Undergraduates Community Health major Audrie Bernard and Government and International Politics major Brendan West have been involved from the beginning and have organized files, worked with the Dzaleka team on missing materials, and done some interviewing, writing, and editing. Creative Writing master’s student Asa Sutton helped organize materials, copy-edit files, and interviewed and wrote the biographies of two people featured in the project. Folklore master’s student Amanda Ellard worked on the final phase of the project helping to prepare materials for the book and website.