Ozaguin, considered the most popular singer-songwriter in the Central African Republic, recently came to the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva to awaken the world to the struggles faced by his country, which has been mired in civil war since 2012.
Ozaguin sings about the difficulties confronting his people. He sings about the constant search for food in a country where insecurity prevents people from farming and harvesting their crops. He sings about people fleeing into the bush to escape the violence of armed groups. He sings about the same armed groups manipulating vulnerable people into doing their bidding so they can feed their families.
A recent flare-up in violence in northwest Central African Republic has sent thousands fleeing for their lives. The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 5,000 refugees from CAR have arrived in southern Chad since December 27.
The new year is off to a bad start for thousands of people forced to flee clashes involving armed groups in the northwestern CAR town of Paoua. The U.N. refugee agency reports an estimated 5,600 refugees have fled to Chad.
The musician and activist recounts the difficulties he, himself, has faced in life. He says he was forced to quit school in the fourth grade to earn money as he was the sole support of his mother and four younger sisters. He tells VOA there were no jobs in the C.A.R., so he went to Brazzaville in search of work.
“Et moi, il m’en refuse…
Ozaguin says no one would hire him because he was too young and too small. He says he had no choice, but to live on the streets. He says he spent four years as a homeless street child, scrounging for food, dodging the police, fighting off the mosquitos. What saved him, he says, was his music.
He says this experience also sensitized him to the plight of street children and prompted him to eventually create a foundation to help homeless youngsters.
“A ce moment, il y’a…
The musician notes money raised through his concerts helps to support 32 homeless children, including 10 Muslim children who live in a separate district in Bangui. He explains Muslims and Christians live in segregated areas in the capital. He says he is working to end this separation and to bring the two communities together.
The United Nations calls the Central African Republic a forgotten crisis. War has displaced more than one million of the country’s five million population, nearly half that number are refugees in neighboring countries.
The World Food Program reports currently, more than 1.8 million people are suffering from serious food shortages. WFP spokesman, Herve Verhoosel, says these people do not know from where their next meal will come.
“Le programme alimentaire…
He says WFP distributes food rations to 600,000 people a month. He says the agency would like to increase that number to 800,000. But to make that possible, he says WFP urgently needs $35.5 million until the end of the year.
In the meantime, Ozaguin says he will continue to raise his voice in song on behalf of the 4.8 million Central Africans, half of whom continue to live in a state of physical and food insecurity.