KUTE Radio’s Pick O’ the Week

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Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars

Living Like a Refugee

Anti Records

Four out of five Stars

Living Like a Refugee, as its name implies, is a poignant look at the difficulties of life in Sierra Leone’s refugee camps in Africa. The Refugee All-Stars is a collective made up of musicians-previously strangers from different regions with different histories and backgrounds-who met one another and found that the only escape from their terrible circumstances was in music.

The airy Caribbean/ska melodies and lighthearted African beats disguise the impossible message here: This is an account of the atrocities of warring nations and the innocent victims that suffer at the hands of civil unrest and governmental gluttony.

This is also an account of resiliency and positivism despite insurmountable trials and injustices. “Smile” is a song that tells you to take life as it comes and make the most of any situation. Band member Abdul Rahim Kamara writes in the liner notes that “anything that happens to man is a destiny to man-even the one who did (harm) to me, if I met him on the way, I’ll greet him. I’ll forgive and forget.”

The title track has a childlike honesty and simplicity. The song’s opening phrase is “You left your country to seek refuge in another man’s land”-a lonely and desperate depiction, to say the least. The repeated chorus is, “Living like a refugee, it’s really not easy,” which is a colossal understatement, based on the description of the daily conditions of the camp that followed.

Reuben M. Koroma, the bandleader and songwriter, says, “although things are difficult, we still stand up and say it with courage that we can make everything work again and get all that we have lost.”

This quote makes the trivialities of college life seem ridiculous and selfish.

An insert that comes in the album tells of the 9 million children who are refugees right now. If you visit www.ninemillion.org, you can find out how to donate to the worthy cause of providing education and sports activities to these young ones.

Listen to this and other excellent music streamed online at www.kute.org, in the Residence Halls on UTV66 or on the airwaves at AM 1620.