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Tuesday, 31 March 2020 13:59

Sultans of String

Written by Dan Rosenberg
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With an all-star cast that includes Bela Fleck, their new disc highlights the moving plight of immigrants.

“I walked, and ran, and screamed / miles on end, to find peace / before I could
pronounce my own name. / I come with too many invisible treasures / often misunderstood
/ feared by all / banned by politics / never belonging / and always longing. / I am a refugee and I anchor humanity.”

These words are part of Ifrah Mansour’s poem, I Am A Refugee, which became the vision of the Sultans of String’s latest project, Refuge, an urgent musical examination of the pain of being forced out of one’s homeland and the experience of immigration.

Mansour is a Somali-American poet and performance artist who was just five years old back in 1991 when civil war broke out in Mogadishu. She grew up in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, where she lived until 1998 when her family was able to immigrate to the United States.

“Writing the poem was a way to unleash some pain that I could name finally,” Mansour explains. “I wrote it because I was so frustrated with so many people sending me emails and asking me what I thought about the travel ban… An artist’s job is to draw that hope, especially in a time of deep hopelessness.”

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