Guest blog written by Goodness Adaoyiche, a Nigerian journalist and author at Global Citizen
I speak beyond a great passion, from the streams of compassion Take action… for the people whose lives we can touch with kindness And a thousand acts that are simple.
Those were some key lines demonstrating the power of art as expressed for a social impact thematic effort like the refugee week commemoration. Such words, excerpted from a poem/rap by Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka, also known as OV Onyeka or Brainbox, can transcend boundaries and ignite change. Yes, the author embraced the universal language of compassion, using his poetic prowess to inspire by shedding some light on the larger narrative for refugees around the world. The piece happens to be just one among a couple of creative interpretations that encapsulates the essence of Refugee Week UK, and serves to mirror our collective responsibility to simply put empathy into action.
In the poem, a verse reflects the author’s roleplay of being a refugee, and as a way to show solidarity intertwined in the journey of those deserving of solace and safety in new and unfamiliar places, they’d make their homes. He acknowledges the hardships endured by refugees while emphasizing the resolute presence of hope.
Refugees, I am a refugee, Here comes a lot that we been through But hope stands in the mirror, And hope here is the hero.
The piece paints such picture, of resilience, and unity. His words flow seamlessly, with a fascinating cadence that resonates deeply as it is a fusion of spoken word and rap, presented in a visual format to amplify the impact of the words. It was posted and was so vibrant that the @RefugeeWeekUK recognized the song as an inspiring addition to the movement, while @thehumanitariannetwork commended its beauty.
More of what makes OV Onyeka Brainbox’s art a remarkable poetic masterpiece is that it epitomizes the shared values and principles a Refugee Week initiative should reflect. Some of the core beliefs were lyricized:
I see these faces and hope for change Safe spaces, a right to claim. (We All Have the Right to be Safe) I hope for fairness as we unite (Open to All) A bigger us is worth the fight. (There is a bigger us)
I hope for art to rebrand the labels (Arts and Culture Make Change/Reclaiming Refugee)
But indeed, there is a bigger us, and Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka’s art, titled as our theme “Compassion into Action”, stands as a meaningful volunteer effort to be cherished. The poem, a testament to the importance of creative endeavors in raising awareness and fostering empathy, reminds us to understand our shared humanity, to value compassion and unity.
In the same refugee week, the poet also collaborated with the UNHCR office in Nigeria, who screened of his poem “Home and the Miracles Away” at the ECOWAS secretariat in Abuja where he also received the #withrefugees blue ribbon. He has tucked in some of these artistic endeavors as an audio spoken word 5-track commentary.
OV Onyeka found a quick free-style inspiration in a Stormzy-inspired beat produced by the super talented @Mr__bruks (on Instagram), which perfectly complemented his voice. The recording of the piece took place at @Wavve_db studio, with video shot by Adaora Oruche using an iPhone.
Watch the poem here:
About the Creative.
OV Onyeka at Amnesty International’s Headquarters in London, Easton Street, Peter Benenson House 2022
Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka “Brainbox” is a Nigerian humanitarian creative with both local and international experience in written and spoken poetry, photography, film and other key art forms in the content creation pathway. An educator on some days too, having worked with young adults, which remains one cherished aspect of his work. He is the author of two lyrical collection efforts: “Dreams Wake Me” and “Rhythm of the SDGs” with quite many excerpts unboxed, recited, repurposed or experimented in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Botswana, Qatar and Niger Republic. OV Onyeka is currently researching on Amnesty International’s social justice advocacy through participatory communication approach for his Masters of Arts (MA) program in Nigeria.
About REFUGEE WEEK
Refugee Week is a festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.