By Blathnaid O’Dea
Members of the Galway activist community have joined forces with the local arts community to voice their support for two of their compatriots who have been issued with deportation orders by the government.
On Saturday, February 1st, five grassroots activist groups organised a rally in support of Mduduzi (Mdu) Ngwenya and Theo Ndlovu, two young artists who call Galway their home.
Both young men came to Galway from Zimbabwe several years ago and have lived in Direct Provision since. On Saturday their friends and supporters urged the government to reconsider the deportation order.
Jessica Reid from Galway Anti-Racism Network, one of the groups behind the rally, said: “We’re talking to the public about the cases of two young men in our community who are facing deportation orders, Theo and Mdu. We just feel that this is a really poor reflection on what’s supposed to be Galway 2020, Capital of Culture. They’ve contributed so much to the community through arts and culture, diversity, inclusion – and for them to be facing deportation at this point is just a crime.”
Speaking to Galway Pulse at the rally on Saturday, Mduduzi appealed to Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, to review his case: “I’m here to rally, or to demonstrate my deportation because I’ve been issued with a deportation order. So, I’m here just to say to the minister can you please go back and review my case.”
Mr. Ngwenya is a founding member and chairperson of the Melting Pot Luck, a group which has organised multiple small and large-scale events which bring people from all backgrounds, minority groups and cultures together through food and music.
He has taken part in numerous volunteer programs with Galway City Partnership, Amnesty International, and he has run educational outreach workshops in schools.
He has a regular DJ slot with Galway African Diaspora at Áras na Gael, and he studies Science at NUIG.
He feels the government are ignoring people in his situation: “To be honest with you I think the government is not taking this thing seriously in terms of us as asylum seekers. They don’t want to talk about it. They really don’t want to know about us asylum seekers. It’s not good for us asylum seekers sitting in limbo, not knowing what’s going on with the system.”
Theo Ndlovu, who is also known around Galway by his stage name Touché, is a hip-hop and spoken word artist who has been hired by Galway 2020 in his capacity as founding member of Atmos Collective. Atmos facilitates music and poetry workshops for Galway’s youth, and it was recently granted funding by Galway 2020 as part of its ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme, to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next 12 months.
Saturday’s rally was hosted by Galway Anti-Racism Network, Melting Pot Luck, Galway Feminist Collective, ATMOS Collective, Amach LGBT, Misneach na Gaillimhe, and Teach Solais.
Over drumming by Galway Feminist Collective, activist Margaretta D’arcy warned the government: “Let the powers that be hear those drums. They’re going to come closer and closer and, in the end, we will overcome the deportation of our citizens.”