Three brothers find healing through music after leaving refugee camp in Kenya
Music is deeply rooted in the Lwamba brother’s lives, having gotten them through some of their darkest times.
“With the music, it [softened] our hearts [and] began to release pressure from our hearts and find a path forward to forgiveness,” Fabian Lwamba said.
20 years ago to the day, Fabian reunited with his two brothers in Saskatchewan. He had been living in a refugee camp in Kenya, not sure if his brothers had survived a massacre in their native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1990.
“300 of our friends died that night. We were at college at the university, Michel and I, that particular night and we can still hear the sound of those who were dying, calling for help for the last time,” Fabian said.
For the next several years, the brothers lived in separate refugee camps — Michel and Aliston in one, Fabian in the other.
“This is a place where we only have access to 20 litres of water a day. This is a place where it’s 40 degrees since 4:00 a.m., this is 200,000 refugees in one place,” Fabian explained. “This is a place where we’ll see kids die of anger, of hunger. This is a place where we’ll see children trying to survive for another day.”
But it was music that kept them going, singing in the refugee camps in an attempt to bring peace and comfort to those around them.
After five years, Michel and Aliston were eventually sponsored by a family in Saskatoon, and in a twist of fate, that’s when they realized Fabian was alive.
“When we got to Saskatoon, the first thing we went to was the Saskatchewan River — it was completely frozen,” Michel said. “We took pictures there on the frozen ice and we sent those pictures back to the refugee camp.”
As it turns out, the refugee camp where Fabian was living had closed. As a result, he was moved to the camp where his two brothers had just left. That’s when he came across the pictures.
After that, Fabian was sponsored by the same family in Saskatoon, where he was reunited with his brothers two years later.
“We held each other, we cried, we said ‘thank you god.’ That was a Christmas gift,” Michel said.
The three brothers have turned that gift into a career, sharing their story of survival through music — touring the world, spreading their gospel with messages of hope and forgiveness.
In 20 years since creating their band, known as Krystaal, the brothers have performed an average of 120 shows per year.
While the brothers are now based out of Toronto, they’re proud to return to Regina on July 14 for a special concert.
“We thought it’s a good idea to come back to the Prairies and say thank you to the people who came with their hearts of generosity,” Aliston said.
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