Festival of Belonging 2023

The Festival of Belonging was a two-day event on June 23rd and 24th (refugee week), Supported by the INternational Protection Integration fund.

  • Day 1: -exhibition by 7 refugee-artists, a Spoken word event, by Refugees and IPA- poets and a concert by Citadel and A Syrian band, replacing Orba, two world music bands of refugees and IPAS.

The arts exhibition was curated by Kasia Nita, a local Polish artist and the artists were Nasir Suleyman, Sobia Saad, Greg Kalala, Elton Sibanda, Juan Carlos Morron, Viktoria Kondratieva and Leanne MacDonagh

These events were held in the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork. The arts exhibition started on June 15th and continued till the end of the festival.

  • Day 2:
  • A conversation café in The Haven Café in Cork City with refugees, IPAs and visitors. Participants spoke about their experiences of belonging with guided questions on each table: Lassane Ouedraogo and Sharin Pillay gave an introduction talk.
  • A conference on Belonging in UCC’s Department of Sociology and Criminology, with keynote speakers: Dr. Debora Kayembe, Prof. Maggie O’Neil, and Dr. Wanette Tuinstra.
  • Dr Kayembe told her very moving story of becoming a refugee, her struggles with racism, her determination which made her rise to become Rector of Edinburgh University. Prof. Maggie O’Neil talked about Asylum, Migration and Belonging -the importance of participatory and creative ways of working with communities.
  • Wanette Tuinstra talked about belonging , the law, Borders, the person, importance of critical thinking.
  • Dr Amin Sharrif Isaloo , UCC dept of Sociology and Criminology talked about his experience of living in Direct Provision (‘we should call them Refugee Camps, because that is what they are’) and his way to university.


Our evaluation. 

  • The Exhibition, spoken word event, and concert were a platform for artists who are either refugees or asylum seekers, many of whom still live in direct provision, to showcase their talents. The art was mesmerising, and people expressed their amazement and delight at seeing the talent that these people have brought.
  • The Conference made us think about Belonging and see the academic world’s work and research in the field. It was a good platform to start collaboration between those on the ground and academics.
  • 80% of attendees to the Festival said their ideas about refugees and asylum seekers had changed, and everyone wants the festival to be repeated.

Here are some photos.

Curator Kasia Nita with Roos Demol


Sobia Saad, the Pakistani artist from Portloaise, with artist Leanne Mc Donagh and a visitor to the exhibition






Some of the art by artist Greg Kalala









Some of the very lovely comments on the exhibition

Poets Majed Mujed (Iraq), Basel Alkhalaf (Syria), Kanyo Khazadi (South Africa), and Anton Floyd








Music from the world





Conversation Café



Conference, with from L to R, Prof.. MAggie O’Neil, Dr Wanette Tuinstra, Dr Amin Sharif Isaloo, Pierrot Ngadi, Dr. Debora Kayembe, Lord Mayor of Cork, Kieran Mc Carthy, MC Derrick Ngadi  and Barrister Zephyrin Ngaliema. 






We can be proud of this acievement. Here a small video from after the event.  Let’s hope we can redo this next year!

Many thanks to all who attended and the amazing board of management and volunteers who helped make this festival a success.

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