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Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars

The best music is born out of oppression. From reggae out of the Kingston ghettos to the Delta blues of the American South to Serbian brass bands, music can serve as a tool for the underprivileged to express their rage and misery but also their hope and optimism for a brighter future. For a modern day example of what I’m talking about, just listen to the music of the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars.

The group hails from the West African country of Sierra Leone, a country that had been plagued with war throughout the 90’s. Their hometown of Freetown had remained relatively safe throughout most of the war-torn decade. However, on January 6, 1999, rebels invaded the city as part of a bloody campaign: “Operation Kill Every Living Thing.” This sparked a mass exodus as thousands fleed Freetown for neighboring Guinea. Many ended up in refugee camps. It was in one of these camps that band leader Reuben Koroma and his wife Grace joined forces with Francis John Langba (aka Franco).
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