Posted by Maki Nesterov
What do you find it most essential to take with you when leaving home? The answer would probably be, in most cases, your phone, a purse, passport or any identification card, any high technology device you cannot live without. But for Jeremiah Mbaha his guitar was the most important item. He didn’t take anything else with him when he was fleeing his country. Why? Maybe because he did not have any electronic devices like we own and take for granted. Or maybe he did not have time to collect all his belongings. Or maybe he did not think they mattered or were important for survival.
In the world we live in now technology has taken over the lives of millions. We depend heavily on it. We need them to keep in touch. We need our money and cards to buy the next meal, but how long will that last in a crisis situation?
So why a guitar? Mbaha could have taken something else. Clearly for Mbaha this was something special that made him feel safe.
Refugees do not have time to pack when they flee their homes due to a war or conflict. And they do not know where they are going and what to expect once they get to new places. Mbaha, however, believed that he would need his guitar once he got to his new destination. His love for music and belief that it could make others happy did not let him down.
Although his life in his new home was full of obstacles and tough, his strong passion for music kept him going and eventually he managed not only to rebuild his own life but also to bring smiles back to other refugees. Mbaha got together with other refugee-artists to form a music band and one of their songs was even played at BBC radio. Now they are organising charity concerts and revenues from them go into providing clothes to other refugees. Furthermore, he set up the Forum Artists Association of Refugees to help other refugee-artists who also longed to put their love for music into the use.
The only thing he took was a guitar. And in the end this proved to be his salvation. He transformed from a refugee to a successful musician and a president of FFFR contributing to the refugee community and helping many others.
Jeremhiah said “I have been singing since my childhood. I could sing anything and I could see people felt warm and happy”.