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- Olorun: AfroCuban music. See also Olorun Workshops

- Oliver Lake

- Mary Redhouse

- Dom Minasi

- Lost Boys of Sudan

Educational Outreach Options



Tucson, Arizona
Armory Park on April 5

A FREE Multi-Cultural Celebration
Uniting Community Through Music and Dance

Sovereign Arts Society, in conjunction with Outward Visions, Rhythm & Roots, Armory Park and Councilman Steve Leal, Ward 5 is proud to announce the Afro-Latino-Americas Music Festival at Armory Park on Saturday, April 5 from 11 am to 6 pm, FREE to the public.

This exciting event celebrates the culmination of two weeks of multi-cultural workshops in Tucson schools by participating artists and marks the beginning of an annual free outdoor event that we envision as a landmark of the Tucson cultural scene.

A carnival procession (a Cuban Comparsa) will open the festivities in the park, followed by concert performances throughout the day and ongoing food and vendor booths.

Featured artists for this multi-cultural event will be: Oliver Lake Steel Quartet, Grupo Olorun, Lost Boys of Sudan, Mary Redhouse Group featuring guitarist Dom Minasi and Latino Solido.

In addition to this diverse array of performances there will also be culinary delights, vendors and information exchange areas. (Participating vendors to be announced at a future date.)

Internationally renowned saxophonist/composer/poet Oliver Lake, who has been to Tucson with the World Saxophone Quartet, Trio 3 and performing his one-man show Matador of 1st and 1st, returns for this special event with his exciting Steel Quartet. Featuring Lyndon Achee on steel pan, Billy Grant on bass, Damon DueWhite on drums and Oliver on saxophone, the music is upbeat and rhythmic, with room for improvisation. This band had the audience dancing in the aisles at last summer’s Ford Montreux Detroit Festival. The group will also perform later that night at the Cushing St. Bar – 198 W Cushing St.

Grupo Olorun is under the direction of dancer/choreographer Susana Arenas, who was in Tucson last fall for a series of workshops and performances. Described as a "mesmerizing experience," Grupo Olorun focuses on Afro-Cuban folkloric traditions. A highly energetic ensemble, it is part of a growing movement of new-generation Cuban artists dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage. Principal members of Grupo Olorun include Susana Arenas and Jose Baroso of Raices Profundas, Sandy Perez, Grupo Afro-Cuba de Matanzas and Rogelio Kindelan nordet of Grupo Ban Rra Rra. All four are dedicated artists in the ancient traditions of Afro-Cuban music and dance and are highly respected as artists, educators and scholars. The group is rounded out by premiere students of these four internationally renowned Cuban artists.

Lost Boys of Sudan will share their story and cultural traditions through drumming, song and dance. The group was named by an aid worker in an Ethiopian refugee camp, located on the border of Sudan, after Peter Pan’s cadre of orphans who clung together to escape a hostile adult world. Since the mid-80s a civil war in Sudan has forced over 33,000 Southern Sudanese boys (and some girls), primarily from the Dinka and Nuer tribes, to leave their villages. Over 48 of these Sudanese youth, now members of the Tucson community, feel it is important to share information with our community about their experiences as well as their cultural traditions of dance, music and arts.

Nationally known Native American jazz vocalist /multi-instrumentalist /composer and poet Mary Redhouse brings her group featuring special guest, guitarist Dom Minasi. Mary, who lives here in Tucson, is a member of the Dine’ (Navajo) tribe and the famous Redhouse family. She uses her 5-octave range to display a unique and personal vocal style. Mary has performed extensively with renowned Native American flautist R. Carlos Nakai. She recently performed on the East Coast with Oliver Lake, who composed a piece specifically for her. New York based guitarist Dom Minasi performed here at the Jazz at the Bevel series last year as a duo. An amazingly original guitarist who critics compare favorably to Eric Dolphy and Cecil Taylor, he’s been called a "true jazz original" with "unimpeachable virtuosity".

Local salsa band Latino Solido was re-formed in 2000 to explore the musical styles of the Afro-Cuban-Caribbean and Latino-Americano-Urbano, have recently been performing to enthusiastic audiences at El Parador. Comprised of Joey Ahumada on vocals and trombone, Lamont Arthur on keyboards, Michael Carbajal and Carlos Lugo on vocals and trumpet, Bubba Fass on congas and percussion, Jeff Friedl on drums, Michael Gallegos on vocals, Sean Mendoza on bass, Hiram Perez on vocals and saxophones and Esteban Smith on vocals and guitars, Latino Solido presents an energetic, entertaining and culturally diverse musical experience.

The Afro-Latino-Americas Festival was conceived to utilize artistic experiences as a means to foster greater cultural understanding and a sense of community among the multi-faceted tapestry of Tucson’s diverse population.

For further information please contact:

Margo Itule at Sovereign Arts - 327 3663 - -

or Helene Cann at Outward Visions - 743 3240 - -


Festival Contacts

Contact: Margo Itule

P.O. Box 13106 - Tucson, Arizona 85732-3106
Phone 520-327-3663 - Fax 520-319-1969

email -

Website -

Contact: Helene Cann

Outward Visions

Phone 743-3240/Fax 743-0915




1) OLIVER LAKE – World-renowned Composer/Saxophonist and Poet. Guggenheim Fellow. Oliver Lake is an eclectic and talented artist whose groups have included the highly acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet (which he co-founded), Trio 3 (with Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille), Jump Up (a funk-reggae group), the Oliver Lake Big Band and the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet (which will be performing at the free outdoor event at Tucson’s Armory Park on April 5). He has also toured the U.S. with his solo theater piece Matador of 1st & 1st and worked collaboratively with actor Patricia Williams. He has performed throughout the world, touring Africa, Japan, Australia and Europe in a variety of contexts and has worked with a wide range of artists including the pop singer Björk, rocker Lou Reed, jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln and hip-hop artists including Mos Def and Tribe Called Quest.

2) MARY REDHOUSE - Native American Jazz Vocalist/Multi-instrumentalist/Composer/Poet. Mary Redhouse, member of the Dine’ (Navajo tribe), is a Native American jazz vocalist and flute player, electric bassist, poet, performance artist, composer and lecturer. She offers 30 years of diverse performing experience that includes Native American dance, songs, arts and crafts, language arts, improvisation, vocal and instrumental music composition, and storytelling. Possessing a 5-octave vocal range, she displays a unique and personal vocal style. Mary has worked extensively with renowned Native American flautist Carlos Nakai and is a member of the famous Redhouse family.

3) DOM MINASI - Virtuoso guitarist who critics are comparing favorably to Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane. A 40+ year veteran musician, Dom is a prolific composer in a variety of genres and has worked extensively with the New York City Board of Education in both music and literacy education. Recently returning actively to recording and performing, Dom’s trio has been receiving rave reviews and he’s being recognized as the premiere innovator on jazz guitar.

4) THE LOST BOYS OF SUDAN - An aid worker in an Ethiopian refugee camp located on the border of Sudan nicknamed the streams of young boys fleeing from fighting, the "Lost Boys Of Sudan", after Peter Pan’s cadre of orphans who clung together to escape a hostile adult world. As a result of the 19-year civil war in Sudan, over 33,000 Southern Sudanese boys (and some girls), primarily from the Dinka and Nuer tribes, were forced to flee from their southern Sudan villages since the mid-1980s. Forty-eight of these extraordinary young men currently reside in Tucson. All members of the Tucson community of "Lost Boys" feel that it is important to share information with the community about their experiences as well as their cultural traditions of dance, music and arts.

5) GRUPO OLORUN- Grupo Olorun was established in 2000 under the direction of dancer, choreographer, Susana Arenas. The repertoire of Grupo Olorun focuses on Afro-Cuban folkloric traditions. They are based primarily in the Bay area and are regular performers and educators in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. Principal members of Grupo Olorun include Susana Arenas and Jose Baroso of Raices Profundas, Rogelio Kindelan of Grupo Ban Rra Rra and Sandy Perez of Grupo Afro-Cuba. Premiere students of these four internationally renowned Cuban artists round out the group. This highly talented and energetic ensemble is part of a growing movement of new-generation Cuban artists dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage. They have been described as "a mesmerizing experience."


1. OLIVER LAKE – Composer/Saxophonist/Poet

Workshops and Master Classes:

A) Spoken word/music – Improvisational music is performed to the poetry of students, who are taught basic performance skills. Mr. Lake’s poetry is recited, showing the relationship between the voice and the saxophone as being one instrument.

B) Saxophone lessons – Students will perform selected compositions of Oliver Lake’s saxophone quartet music. Oliver will provide individual attention; basics of sound production with instruments, as well as technique exercises.

C) Improvisation – Mr. Lake discusses improvisation techniques and theory and instructs students in improvisation exercises.

D) Music composition – Mr. Lake discusses some of his original compositions, illustrating his various methods and approaches to composing. Under his guidance, students create and perform new works.

2. MARY REDHOUSE - Native American Jazz Vocalist/Multi-Instrumentalist/Poet

A) LANGUAGE ARTS – Storytelling

Traditional stories from selected Native American tribes with use of birdcalls, animal sounds, nature "sound effects", use of emotional intelligence. Lessons about spiritual awareness, honor, the natural world (science), plants, animal behavior, and love, care and respect for themselves, for the Earth, it’s creatures and other human beings.

Interaction is encouraged during these presentations. Group and individual participation, comment, contribution and input are welcomed. There are times during the presentations in which the story is "suspended" and there is a point of Question-and-Answer to explore focus and enhance group interest and excitement. Students will also be encouraged to create their own stories – to feel their feelings; use their own stories as positive, creative outlets for emotional expression, and share their insights through writing, speaking and/or performing their work as a group or as individuals.

B) MUSICA Cross-Cultural Approach

1. "Herstory" – Evolution of Mary’s Unique Vocal Style

2. Overview of Historic Evolution of Styles - The Cry – African work songs and Native American songs, spirituals, blues, swing, standards, gospel, soul, R&B, funk, rock, pop, folk, musical theatre styles, bebop, Latin and progressive, free jazz, avant-garde. An overview of the vocal jazz masters and divas.

3. Lecture/Demonstration, Mini-Concert of The Creative Process in the Moment. Mary Redhouse – solo performance of voice, electric bass, Native American flute. Of interest to all ages. A short presentation/demonstration (maximum 45 minutes to one hour) – with interactive aspects included. Mary tells "herstory", reflects on her influences, describes her upbringing, performs with voice and on her electric bass (techniques used: walking, grooving, tapping, harmonics, slapping, chording, using arpeggios, etc.), can also play the Native American flute and demonstrate tonal imagery with bird and animal calls and "high" frequency whistle vocals.

3. DOM MINASI – Guitarist/Composer

A) Children Songwriting Workshops - Starting with the history of the blues, covering down-home Blues, Rock & Roll and Jazz. The children are guided through a step-by-step process that teaches them how to write songs. Using literacy as the main objective each workshop covers grammar, spelling, rhythm, musical terms, rhyming and poetry put to music.

B) Lecture - History of Jazz Guitar - Traces the lineage of guitar starting with the blues up to the modern day guitarist. The lecture includes handouts, taped examples of the various guitarist and demonstrations on guitar by Dom. Lecture is geared to last 2 hrs and 45 minutes but can be tapered to any length of time.

C) Lecture - Harmonic Substitution for Guitar - A lecture and demonstration with handouts from Dom’s book The Principles of Harmonic Substitution. The lecture covers chord structuring, en-harmonic chords, essentials of chromatic substitution, when to substitute and when not to and chord melodies for the guitarist. 1hr - 2hrs 45 minutes

D) Lecture - Improvisation - A lecture and demonstration on the different approaches to improvising which includes scales, chromatics, intervals, harmonic resources and Dom's own particular method based on his book Stress Points. 2 hrs

4. LOST BOYS OF SUDAN - Sudanese Ensemble

A) Their Story - Selected members of the ensemble share the inspiring story of their escape from war torn east Africa. Recounting their experience as orphan refugees trekking across Sudan to Ethiopia and then back through Sudan to Kenya on foot. This compelling presentation follows their journey from tragedy to a new life in an alien culture.

B) Performance - This presentation is a unique and inspiring glimpse of the traditional music and dance of the Sudan mainly focused on the Dinka and Nuer tribes of Southern Sudan.

5. OLORUN – Afro-Cuban Ensemble

A) Lecture Demonstration - A riveting and informative presentation exploring African influences in the traditions of Cuban music and dance, with demonstrations by the artists. Students are invited to play instruments and experiment with forms.

B) Afro-Cuban Folkloric Dance or Percussion Classes - A cultural learning experience incorporating self-expression, movement techniques and rhythmic concepts. Explanations of African origins are interspersed in this presentation

C) Performance - Olorun present a showcase of various Afro-Cuban dances with percussion accompaniment. Pieces include dances to select deities of the Lucumi religion, Rumba, Son and Contemporary styles. This presentation is guaranteed to delight, educate and inspire all ages.

BIOGRAPHY – OLIVER LAKE – Composer/Saxophonist/Poet

Composer, saxophonist and poet. Co-founder of the renowned World Saxophone Quartet. Guggenheim Fellow. Mr. Lake has performed throughout the world, touring Africa, Japan, Australia and Europe. He has worked with a wide range of artists including the pop singer Björk, rocker Lou Reed, jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln and rap group Tribe Called Quest.

His many commissions include the Library of Congress and the McKim Foundation for Movements, Turns & Switches, a violin and piano duet that premiered at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Washington D.C; the Wheeling Symphony which also premiered the commissioned work Cross Stitch; ASCAP and the International Association of Jazz Educators to compose a big band piece in honor of the great saxophonist and composer Benny Carter, which premiered at the 1999 IAJE convention; the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio to compose a chamber orchestra piece featuring the World Saxophone Quartet, performed during their 2001 concert series. He has also received multiple commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. His works have been performed by the Arditti String Quartet, the World Saxophone Quartet, the Amherst Sax Quartet, violinist Regina Carter, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the San Francisco Contemporary Players, New York New Music Ensemble, and Pulse Percussion Ensemble of New York.

Since 1995, he has been performing The Matador of 1st & 1st, an evening-length solo theater piece that he created. Directed by Oz Scott, this work has toured the west coast of the United States and Canada, and has received critical acclaim for running engagements in New York and Boston.

Also in 1995, Mr. Lake founded Passin’ Thru, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering, promoting and advancing the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of jazz, new music and musically related forms of art. Passin’ Thru achieves these goals by commissioning artists, sponsoring performances by emerging artists, documenting works by contemporary artists and conducting on-going educational activities. Passin’ Thru, Inc. operates Passin’ Thru Records, which has a growing catalogue of recordings by dynamic artists including Mr. Lake, tenor saxophonist Freddy Washington, Jr., the legendary multi-instrumentalist Makanda Ken McIntyre and the pianist John Hicks. Mr. Lake serves as Artistic Director of Passin’ Thru.

In January 1998, the sixteen-piece Oliver Lake Big Band made its debut in New York City and received rave reviews. Since then, the Big Band has performed at the Texaco and New York Jazz Festivals, and conducts semi-annual residencies at the Knitting Factory and Tonic in New York City.

During 1998, Mr. Lake was the featured artist in a yearlong, large-scale initiative directed by Unity Concerts of New Jersey, with major funding from the Lila Wallace Arts Presenters Program. As part of this initiative, he conducted more than twenty-five community-oriented workshops for several Montclair-based organizations, and created Broken In Parts, an interdisciplinary, evening length work featuring poems by residents of Montclair, Orange, and Newark, New Jersey. The final work involved a cast of ten musicians, six actors, the dance soloist Roko Kawai and the rapper Mos Def. Broken In Parts made its debut in December 1998 at Mount Hebron High School in Montclair, and received a ten-minute standing ovation.

In the Spring of 1999, Oliver premiered the Oliver Lake Steel Quartet at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. This latest ensemble has also appeared at Sweet Basil’s, the Knitting Factory and other venues throughout the New York City metropolitan area as well as closing out the 2001 Detroit Ford Montreaux Festival where they had everyone dancing in the aisles. In addition, Mr. Lake was appointed to a three-year Composer In Residence position at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey. This residency is funded by Meet The Composer and will also include work with the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theater and several schools in the region.

In 2001, Oliver was selected by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to participate in the Society’s "Great Day in New York" photo project and concert series. Most recently, Oliver released two recordings – Have Yourself a Merry… with the Steel Quartet and vocalist Judy Bady, and Talkin’ Stick with his Quintet, both for Passin’ Thru Records.

Upcoming projects include a collaboration with writer and law professor Patricia Williams, and the Quagmire Trio with kumungo player Jin Hi Kim and bassist William Parker. Oliver continues to perform worldwide with his own ensembles and in Trio Three, the long-standing cooperative trio with percussionist Andrew Cyrille and bassist Reggie Workman.

BIOGRAPHY - MARY REDHOUSE – Native American Vocalist/Multi-Instrumentalist/Poet

Mary Redhouse, member of the Dine’ (Navajo tribe), is a Native American jazz vocalist, Native American flute player, electric bassist, poet, performance artist, composer, lecturer and cultural presenter. She offers 30 years of diverse performing experience that includes Native American dance, songs, arts and crafts, language arts, improvisation, vocal and instrumental music composition, and storytelling.

She has been critically acclaimed in music trade magazine as well as The Los Angeles Times, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen, and may other newspapers across America. Using "every nook and cranny" of her 5 octave vocal range, she scats and plays electric bass simultaneously – using several different techniques with both instruments

She has worked with many jazz musicians, including internationally renowned saxophonist/composer/poet Oliver Lake, bassist/composer Michael Formanek, saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist Santi Debriano, drummer Gene Lake, percussionist Gilad, guitarist John Stowell, bassist Ed Schuller, pianist Jill McManus and Denver area musicians like guitarist Mitch Chmara and former Pharoah Sanders musicians drummer Tom Tilton and pianist Joe Bonner.

She has worked extensively as vocalist/bassist with the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet and other Canyon Records artists such as the William Eaton Ensemble (world music) and the Redhouse Family Jazz Band, which performs contemporary and Latin jazz.

She is also a member of the Native American dance troupe The Redhouse Dancers, which offers cultural presentations, arts and crafts, Native American music and dance demonstrations and instructions, songs and stories.

Mary is also electric bassist for the Larry Redhouse Trio and has toured with Anishinabe, singer/songwriter Keith Secola and his Wild Band of Indians as well as leading her own duo and trio – providing variety music for schools, organizations, resorts, casinos, festivals, concerts, private, public and corporate events.

Other activities include member of the Tucson Unified Schools Music Curriculum Review Board, Tucson Home Educators Network and TELAO; tutor for the Sunnyside School Tutor for Indian Education and radio host for KXCI-FM community-radio’s The Native American Hour. She has served on the boards of Very Special Arts Arizona, the Tucson Jazz Society and has been a member of expansion arts presenters Eneke-the-Bird and Zeitgeist.

Mary has composed documentary music for PBS affiliate KUAT-TV’s series Art of the First Americans (10 segments) and Our Journeys (Moments in Native American History); ballet music and narration for the Tucson Regional Dance Company’s production Why Butterflies Fly Crazy – an adaptation of a Pueblo Coyote story as well as music for A New Wind – Native American Jazz Explorations, a jazz ensemble featuring Michael Formanek, John Stowell and herself, made possible through grant funding. These compositions featured original traditional intertribal song forms that blended Native American microtonal, multi-octave vocal techniques, free jazz improvisations, call-and-response and melodies influenced by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. She has also contributed compositions for Canyon Records’ release Urban Indian by the Redhouse Family Jazz Bands.

Mary has been awarded grants from the Tucson Arts District Partnership, Pima Arts Council, Tucson Cross Cultural Arts Organization, Tucson Jazz Society, and DiverseWorks.

BIOGRAPHY - DOM MINASI – Guitarist/Composer/Educator

It’s not common to hear a guitarist compared to adventurous players like Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor, but Dom Minasi is not your common type of guitarist.

"I have no idea where that comes from," he says of his unique approach to improvisation. "It just happened. It just felt like the natural progression. I like to get that looseness, that creative stuff happening."

Like many highly creative artists, Dom needs a variety of contexts to express the full range of his musical vision. Already maintaining five separate groups – 3 duos, with pianist Dennis Moorman; saxophonist Blaise Siwula, and vocalist Carol Mennie; and two trios, DDT with bassist Ken Filiano and cellist Tomas Urlich, and his regular group with Filiano and drummer Jackson Krall – Dom has just completed writing extensively for his new 9-piece group Time (The Improvisational Music Ensemble), comprised of tenor sax, alto sax, trumpet, trombone, violin, cello, bass, percussion and, of course, guitar.

But it’s his new project with his regular trio that is first and foremost in his heart. Entitled "Takin’ The Duke Out," this project features a fresh interpretation of classic Ellington compositions through new arrangements and reharmonizations providing an ideal setting for the group’s adventurous and innovative excursions.

"We went in and we nailed it!" Dom says of the premiere performance of the music, which was fortunately recorded and will be Dom’s next CD. "This is the happiest I’ve ever been with something I’ve done."

And that covers a lot of ground.

Born on March 6, 1943 (sharing a birthday with legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery), Dom is a 44-year veteran of the music scene, with a history and scope of activities as varied and jam-packed as his native New York City.

Backing up top singing groups at rock ’n roll shows, church dances and the like while still in his early teens, Dom has maintained a jazz trio with bass and drums since he was 15 years old. But education has also played a major role in his overall musical activities.

"By the time I was 19 or 20, I had more than 100 students, but I cut it down to 95 so I could play six nights a week."

A lot of those nights were spent backing up, and providing musical direction for vocalists, something that Dom has continued to do since 1964 and almost exclusively until 1973, when his own trio began to really take shape, coming to the attention of George Butler who had taken the reins at Blue Note from the label’s visionary founder and producer, Alfred Lion.

Unfortunately, a lack of direction at the immortal label caught Dom between the proverbial rock and hard place and after two records in much less than ideal circumstances, Dom forced his way out.

"I walked away. I didn’t want to be bothered."

So from 1976-1993, Dom involved himself in a variety of pursuits, freelancing and occasionally performing with Moorman, providing the music for a variety of off-Broadway shows, authoring three books on technique for Sunrise Artistries, and returning to school where he studied with Academy Award-winning composer John Corigliano at Lehman College, receiving his degree in composition in 1990.

He also composed over 300 vocal and instrumental compositions during those years, as well as regularly providing workshops for children.

Fellow musicians kept trying to get Dom more involved with the regular scene but he continued to resist. "I’m happy. I do my workshops with the kids. I’m doing great. Why do I need the aggravation?" was his general response.

But finally in 1993 he began to take an interest again, becoming principal composer for the Manhattan Improvisational Chamber Ensemble and beginning to work on various projects of his own. By 1996, he was in the thick of it, but entirely on his own terms.

"For the past eight years, I’ve only done what I want to do," he says contentedly.

That includes his own album "Finishing Touches" and "Dialing Privileges," co-led with Blaise Siwula, both for CIMP; arranging all the music for the 1997 revival of "Torch Song Trilogy," publishing his fourth book "The Singer’s Guide to Reading Rhythms," and developing a program to teach literacy through songwriting and music for the New York City Public School System. This latter activity has also resulted in a CD for the Board of Education and the composing of more than 300 children’s songs.

Over his long career, Dom has worked with countless heavyweights, crossing all styles of Jazz. He’s performed in venues ranging from top jazz clubs to Carnegie Hall to the White House for President Bill Clinton.

But it’s musical expansion and personal growth that are his principal motivations.

"I’m trying to bring the guitar and my music to the next level, without effects, electronics, etc."

And in true keeping with the most fundamental aspect of the great jazz tradition, Dom Minasi continues to explore and discover new ideas in pursuit of his true and most personal musical vision.


The "Lost Boys Of Sudan" are a group of refugees named after Peter Pan’s cadre of orphans who clung together to escape a hostile adult world. Some 33,000 Sudanese boys and some girls were forced by violence from their southern Sudan villages since the mid-1980’s.

Fleeing the violence and bloodshed of Sudan’s internal conflict, these innocent children experienced mind-numbing horrors and intense hardships. They walked hundreds of miles in search of peace and then spent over nine years in a Kenyan refugee camp. Today 3,400 Lost Boys are either already in the United States or on their way here and settling in cities through out the country. (300 Lost Boys currently reside in Tucson.)

Most of the Lost Boys are from the Dinka or Nuer tribes of Southern Sudan, where hundreds of villages have been burned, livestock stolen and families decimated. Scattered groups of suddenly orphaned boys converged and headed toward Ethiopia, where they hoped to find their families again.

The orphaned boys and some girls trekked almost endlessly through sub-Sahara heat and wilderness. Many children died of starvation, thirst or attack by animals. Older boys – some just 9 or 10 – looked after the youngest ones and small cliques of boys formed their own family groups.

The boys walked for roughly two months across Sudan to Ethiopia, where they spend three years in various refugee camps until being forced away in 1991 by yet more gunfire. Chased by Ethiopian government tanks and armed militia, the boys frantically tried to cross the River Gilo, where thousands drowned, were eaten by crocodiles or shot.

After leaving Ethiopia, those who survived the river crossing walked for more than a year back through Sudan to Kenya, a destination for thousands of African refugees forced out of their homes by war or natural disaster. Emaciated, dehydrated and parentless, only half of the original boys, some 10,000 who survived the journey, arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in 1992. The majority of them were between the ages of 8 and 18 (most of the boys don’t know for sure how old they are; aid workers assigned them appropriate ages after they arrived in Kenya.)

On their two treks, the children covered hundreds of miles and faced gunfire, lion and crocodile attacks, disease and starvation. They often had to eat leaves, carcasses of dead animals and mud to survive.

Many of these young people had previously seen their parents and other family members killed, as they fled for their own lives. Today most have no knowledge of where other family members may be or even if they have survived. The other children became their family.

In 1999, the UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, working in collaboration with the US Department of State, referred over 3,400 of these youth to the U.S. for resettlement processing.

These extraordinary beings having resettled in an alien culture. Those who were relocated to Tucson are working under the guidance of a Tucson organization called "Sudanese Educational Promise, Inc." to rebuild their lives through education, work training and learning to assimilate into our culture. All members of the Tucson community of "Lost Boys" maintain their cultural traditions of dance, music and arts. This incredible group of Sudanese youth is anxious to share their story with the community through compelling presentations.


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