Boise band 'Afrosonics' uses music to help refugees

A Boise band is doing their part to help out refugees making new lives for themselves in the Treasure Valley.

BOISE - Idaho has seen thousands of refugees over the last few years. According to the Idaho Office of Refugees, Boise is recognized nationwide as a welcoming community, thanks in part to many groups and organizations that help refugees transition.

One of those groups is a band called Afrosonics. It's only been around for six years, but the amount of lives they've touched can't be measured.

"The life was very hard," said Elvice Mwenematale, a refugee from Africa. "Very hard even for having food. We lived in camp and there was a limit of food they're giving to you, it's not enough."

Mwenemataleand his family of 13 moved from village to village during times of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. One thing remained constant during that time for Mwenematale, his love for music. 

"Music is something that I grew up with since I was very young," he said.

After decades of living in refugee camps, Mwenematale and his family got the chance of a lifetime. 

"In Africa we call America paradise," he said. "When they told me I will go to America, I didn't see just America, I see paradise. I was asking myself where can I find somebody or some group that we can join together and keep singing like I did in Africa?"

That's where Afrosonics comes in. They're a group of musicians based in Boise, but their roots spread much father than that.
 
"Some of the new guys coming to town are from other parts of Africa that I have not even been to or even had any experience with," said the band's drummer, Dayo Ayodele.

Ayodele is from Nigeria and started Afrosonics as a way to use music to bring Idahoans and refugees together.

"When you hear these stories, I think it's just amazing, it's mind blowing," said Ayodele.

"There's a lot of music that's a universal language that everybody can feel, but just like any language there's little subtleties that are different," said Todd Dunnigan, the band's keyboard player.

"It's like, wow, I'm learning at the same time and it's all cool," said Ayodele. "It's showing the beauty of culture and diversity that we have."

Ayodele says they combine different cultures and languages like soup.

"You put all the ingredients in and you never know how it's going to turn out," he said.

"No matter where you're born or what it is you're into, there's always ways to mesh this all together," added Dunnigan.

It gives people like Mwenematale a chance to live his dream: "When I sing and people cheer, that is what I love!"

As of now, group members don't have any performances coming up in the near future, but they say they are working on new material which will eventually be a part of an album.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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