Al Jazeera World

A Hard Road from Home: Music and Fashion

The stories of four refugees from Africa and the Middle East who have found creative success.

“Refugees are always connected. Once you become a refugee … it’s like the energy just pull you guys together.” – Emmanuel Jal, musician

Four people – refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe – took very different, unpredictable paths away from conflict or political persecution in their home countries. But they all have something in common: they have since built successful careers in the arts and culture industry and are driven to express themselves by using their skills to help others.

Emmanuel Jal does not know when he was born. He knows he was born sometime in the 1980s in southern Sudan. He was displaced by the pre-secession war that took place between the north and south and was recruited as a child soldier while attending school in Ethiopia. He is now a critically acclaimed musician and author in Canada.

Tara Moneka, a teenage singer from Baghdad, took part in a popular TV talent show in Iraq and received threats from militiamen angered by her singing. She now lives in exile in Turkey with hopes of returning home.

Tara Moneka - AJW - DO NOT USE
Tara Moneka, a singer from Iraq, is now in exile in Turkey [Al Jazeera]

Euphemia Sydney-Davies, who fled civil war in Sierra Leone as a child, today has her own fashion label in London, producing ethically sourced clothes for clients throughout the world.

Euphemia Sydney-Davies - AJW - DO NOT USE
As a child, fashion designer Euphemia Sydney-Davies escaped from civil war in Sierra Leone [Al Jazeera] 

And Faith Gakanje, a vocal opponent of the government of Zimbabwe, fled her native country in 2002. She now lives in the UK, where she is a fashion entrepreneur and founder of a forum that supports refugee women.

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Faith Gakanje, a Zimbabwean fashion entrepreneur in the UK [Al Jazeera]

The four artists have found success through their determination, family support and what they consider to be a certain degree of good fortune. It is a gift they now pay forward to help fellow refugees and connect with others.