Nasol sings hopeful songs

Above: Nasol Niyonsaba plays guitar. Photographer: Johanna Young

Despite the challenging chill and wind on the evening of June 23, the atmosphere was warm at the annual
Multicultural Festival, hosted by the Greater Concord Area Task Force Against Racism and Intolerance and held on the State House Lawn and Capitol Street.

By the time Nasol Niyonsaba, a Burundian client of Lutheran Social Services (LSS), was invited to the stage to share a few songs in his native tongue, Kirundi, the sun had come out and the wind had died down a bit. Niyonsaba arrived just three weeks ago from a refugee camp in Tanzania where he was part of a team of musicians supported by the U.N. to encourage repatriation to Burundi. With backup up from other Burundian refugees, and a borrowed guitar (courtesy of Nancy Jo Chabot, event organizer) he sang several songs about his hopes for a congenial life in America. LSS case worker Forkpah Sumo translated with the help of one of the refugees: "God in not black or white, but One, He is not hatred - all the mothers and fathers - come to God," he sang in one song. In another, he sang: "Education paths the way and is the way ... we are new here and just learning English in time we will perfect our English and I (Nasol) will pursue my arts."

The Multicultural Festival was the second annual festival. Approximately 600 people attended and visited the tables selling crafts and food and displaying exhibits from 15 different countries. Franklyn Rosario (The Room Records), a native of the Dominican Republic, was MC and DJ. Both children and adults played with frisbees and hoola hoops on the State House Lawn as the music played in the background.

Visitors to the fair were invited to put a pin in their country of origin on a big world map, provided by the Imagination Village store on Main Street. The countries of visitors included Iran, Israel, Egypt, Germany, Taiwan, India, Ecuador, Kenya, Ghana, Poland, India, China, Guatemala, Guinea, Liberia, Somalia, Burundi, the Congo, D.R. and more.

Later in the evening Grammy winner and Concord native, Dan Zanes dropped by to do a few songs. Known best for his multicultural folk music for children, Zanes was happy to stop by after performing a benefit concert for the Friendly (soup) Kitchen. He got kids and parents alike up and hopping in time to the music. It's nice to see the diversity in Concord...he noted with a smile.

Submitted by the Greater Concord Area Task Force Against Racism & Intolerance

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