Migrant talent in spotlight

Poet Mapalo Kawa Phiri and dancer Mohammad Karimi are two of the finalists for Migrants Got Talent. Picture: Emma Reeves. www.communitypix.com.au d400304
Poet Mapalo Kawa Phiri and dancer Mohammad Karimi are two of the finalists for Migrants Got Talent. Picture: Emma Reeves. www.communitypix.com.au d400304

Eight young migrants have qualified for the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre’s annual Migrants Got Talent finals.

Mapalo Phiri (23) will recite poetry, with her life experiences and Christian beliefs guiding her writing.

‘At first I didn’t realise it was poetry,’ she said.

‘A lot of the time it used to be more a release ” when things were happening in my life, I would write.

‘At the end I found out it was poetic.’

Originally from Zambia, Mapalo moved to Perth with her family six years ago and recently graduated from Curtin University.

Freestyle dancer Mohammed Karimi (14) from Tuart Hill has also made it into the finals, eight months after he started dancing.

Born in Iran, his family moved to Afghanistan, then spent two months on Christmas Island before moving to Adelaide and then finally Perth last year.

Apprentice bricklayer Justin Zinga (21) will be one of three rappers in the finals.

‘It is based on reality and my experience of life and what’s out there,’ the self-taught rapper said.

He originally came from in Uganda, but moved to Perth 11 years ago, and started rapping about four years ago, listening to artists like The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur and Izzy.

MMRC youth project officer Mzingisi Mqhum said the competition, first held in 2010, involved young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the arts, particularly recent migrants.

‘One of the reasons why we do this competition is to engage our youth,’ he said.

‘We auditioned and we had about 30 contestants then we had to cut it down.

Mr Mqhum said the Department of Immigration and Citizenship funded the competition and engaging youth in arts and sports programs helped smooth their transition into Australian culture.