Refugee Week Scotland launches with a song

Congolese refugee gives thanks to Glasgow as Refugee Week Scotland launches seven days of festivities

A Congolese singer/songwriter who fled his home country fearing for his life and found safety in Scotland, helped launch Refugee Week Scotland in style today (Monday, 18 June) with a heartfelt rendition of Thank-You Glasgow, the title track of his debut album.

Jethro Kinavuidi, 32, wrote the track to pay tribute to the people of the city he now calls home. The talented musician first arrived in Glasgow in 2008, and now lives here with his wife and three children.

Kinavuidi will also be launching his assured debut album – sung in a mixture of English, French and Lingala - on Friday as part of Refugee Week festivities, with the support of charity Scotland in Europe.

'Sunshine and diamonds'

He said: “In Congo we have everything – sunshine and diamonds – but people are suffering. We have political problems, people are tortured, women are raped and people cannot eat.

“I came to Glasgow to be safe with my family and that is why I want to say ‘thank-you’ to this city and its people. But I also want to help people understand what is going on in my country.

“Refugee Week is a great time to do this so I’m really excited both to performing today and to be launching my album as part of celebrations.”

His performance today sets the scene for a week of musical treats, including the Refugee Week Scotland Opening Concert this evening at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket, featuring Mercury award nominated King Creosote and curated by his Fence Collection label.

Refugee Week is all about having fun...But it is also about highlighting the voices of refugees" - Suzi Simpson.

Suzi Simpson, Co-ordinator of Refugee Week Scotland, said: “We are really excited about the week ahead of us which is packed with exciting performers including Scotland’s own King Creosote and the amazing Jethro Kinavuidi, whose music is as inspiring as the spirit he has shown in rebuilding his life here in Glasgow.

“Refugee Week is all about having fun, and there’s plenty of that to be had this year with over 100 events including world-class comedy, carnivals and community celebrations, theatre, films, exhibitions and even street football.

“But it is also about highlighting the voices of refugees and celebrating the very real contribution they are making in Scotland. We should all feel proud to be part of a country with a strong tradition of providing sanctuary for those who need it, and Thank You Glasgow is a timely reminder of that.”

Scottish Refugee Council, which co-ordinates Refugee Week Scotland is also raising money throughout the week to help support its essential work with refugees and asylum seekers all year round.

For more information please contact Scottish Refugee Council Media Officers Karin Goodwin or Wendy Niblock on 0141 223 7927/07850 930418

Notes to editors

  1. Jethro Kinavuidi will launch his album – Thank You Glasgow –  at 8pm on Friday, 22 June, MacSorley’s Glasgow. The event is organised by charity Scotland in Europe, who have also funded the making of the album.
  2. Last year just over 2,000 people were supported to seek asylum in Scotland. They came from a range of countries including Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  3. Refugee Week Scotland is co-ordinated by Scottish Refugee Council. It involves over 100 events from carnivals to comedy, football matches to film and a range of performances, exhibitions, workshops and talks. Refugee Week Scotland 2012 runs from 18-24 June and is more far reaching than ever before with events from Orkney to the Borders.
  4. The theme of Refugee Week is ‘Spirit’ in all its guises, from the spirit of survival that refuges have demonstrated in fleeing persecution and rebuilding their lives in Scotland, to the spirit of communities across Scotland. In this Year of Creative Scotland it’s also about celebrating the creative spirit that’s apparent in our country-wide programme of events.
  5. The main highlights include:

-       Opening concert, curated by King Creosote (Fence Records): A Fence Collective label showcase to mark the opening of this year’s Refugee Week. King Creosote will headline the night, performing with his eight-piece band. Support comes from his right hand man, the Pictish Trail and Glasgow’s own Randolph’s Leap.

-       Spirit exhibition at Trongate 103: An exciting photography project in partnership with Street Level Photoworks, seven refugee photographers have spent time photographing an interviewing refugees and their communities about what Spirit means to them for an exhibition at this Glasgow gallery.

-       Excerpts from the eagerly awaited Glasgow Girls: Cora Bissett, director of multi-award winning Roadkill and writer David Grieg present extracts and songs from their multi-cultural musical about the legendary Glasgow Girls from Drumchapel High, which will be presented by the National Theatre of Scotland this autumn.

-       British Red Cross Comedy Night - now sold out: An evening of first class stand-up comedy brought to you by the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

-       Collaborations with new partners including the St Magnus Festival in Orkney and the Solas Festival in South Lanarkshire

6. Since 1985, Scottish Refugee Council has worked to ensure all refugees in Scotland are treated fairly, with dignity and that their human rights are respected. An independent charity, we’re here to provide essential information and advice. We also campaign for political change, raise awareness about issues that affect refugees, and work closely with local communities and organisations.

7. Scotland in Europe was founded in Paris in November 1991. After the 'Glasgow, City of Culture', a group of Glasgow based artists went to Paris to find out how different it would be to set up a voluntary arts organisation in Europe, as opposed to Scotland. Their findings were similar, and the group was set up, registering with the mairie de paris (similar to Glasgow City Council). After this success, the group set up in Scotland in November 1992.

The Aim of Scotland in Europe is to give a platform to established artists, and up and coming artists and people on a grassroots level. Since it was established, Scotland in Europe have been involved in 20 local events and 8 European events and have provided art classes and training courses for the local community of Govan. It continues to work at a grassroots level, working with disenfranchised people and build a network of like minded people in Europe.

8. You can support our Refugee Week Fundraising appeal by making a one of donation or by setting up a monthly payment.  Please go to www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/appeal

How your support could help:

-          With £5, we can pay for a destitute woman seeking asylum to get to a vital medical appointment.

-          With £10, we can buy a hot meal for a family of three who have just fled their country.

-          With £20, we can pay for a caseworker to find out the needs of a newly arrived asylum seeker to ensure they get the help they need in Scotland.

-          With £50, we can run a training session to help refugee groups come together and speak out on issues affecting them.

-          With £100, we can use it towards campaigning for a fairer asylum system and better treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.