Feature: Stone Flowers Band Second CD `Ngunda.’
On Monday 18th July 2015, the University of East London (UEL) Archives undertook a launch event for their university-funded civic engagement project entitled “Democratic Access or Privileged Exclusion: A Workshop on the Preservation of and Access to Refugee Archives.” During the registration period for our event, we were privileged to be able to play a recently published CD called “Ngunda”, which in the Lingala language is the term for refuge. The album was recorded by a band called Stone Flowers, who are a group of torture survivors and refugees from all over the world. Their second album was made possible as a result of crowd funding with the help and assistance of Freedom from Torture North West and Music Action International, (formerly Musicians Without Borders UK).
In their press release, A Different Kind of Music, Freedom from Torture highlighted:
“The group was born as a response to the shocking use of music in Guantanamo Bay, and other detention centres worldwide. Stone Flowers aim to counterbalance the use of music in this inhuman fashion and remind people that in cultures all over the world, music is a source of positivity.”
Ngunda reflects on each of the group’s individual stories. Songs are performed with both traditional and modern instruments encompassing a range of musical traditions. Individual songs are recorded in a number of languages including Arabic, Farsi, English, French, Kikango, Lingala and Tamil.
“The magic of using multiple languages is an inspired way which the singers use their mother tongues to convey a heartfelt emotion to the audience, whilst also sharing their beautiful messages.”
Further details both about the Ngunda CD and the Stone Flowers band can be found on the Freedom from Torture and Music Action International websites. Ngunda is available to purchase for £10 plus postage and packing from the Music Action International website. A detailed report is also available to download in PDF format here.
The positive effects of this project are reflected in the words of Lito, one of the Stone Flowers musicians:
“After the project, I’ve always tried to keep them feelings with me at all times. Because it’s the only feeling that reminds me of who I am and what I live for now, for what happens tomorrow I do not know, it’s out of my reach. This group has transformed me.”