Mduduzi Ngwenya, an NUI Galway student, DJ, and community activist, is being threatened with deportation, a move which has led to the founding of an online petition and a campaign to prevent him being forced to return to Zimbabwe.
Mr Ngwenya has been living in direct provision in Galway for the last three years, but in that time has successfully integrated into Galway and Irish life. He is currently studying science at NUIG, where he also sits on the university's University of Sanctuary committee.
He is also a co-founder and the chair of Melting Pot Luck, a non-profit volunteer run community group of asylum seekers, refugees, and locals in Galway, which provides kitchen space and ingredients for people in direct provision to cook their own food, as well as events to bring native and newcomer together to share food, culture, music, and stories.
'Mduduzi embodies the spirit of what makes Galway great and he has made a huge effort to integrate and engage with the community in Galway'
He is actively involved in the Galway arts scene, DJing regularly with Galway African Diaspora at Áras na Gael. He has also been involved with the Galway City Partnership and Amnesty International, running educational workshops in schools and training sessions with professionals.
A petition asking the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to rescind the deportation order, has been established at https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/save-mduduzi-from-deportation. It has currently secured more than 2,300 signatures. The campaign to allow Mr Ngwenya stay in Ireland has also draw support from the Galway arts community and anti-racism campaigners.
"We are all absolutely shocked and devastated that our friend and chair of our group has been told he can’t stay in Ireland," Megan Vine Ratnayake, a member of Melting Pot Luck said. "Mduduzi embodies the spirit of what makes Galway great. He is an amazingly talented, positive, warm, hard-working and socially conscious individual and he has made a huge effort to integrate and engage with the community in Galway.
She also said the Melting Pot Luck group "wouldn't be what it is without Mduduzi". She pointed out how the group had organised multiple small and large-scale events, which have "helped to break down the barriers that separate people, building friendships and promoting intercultural understanding".
She added: "Mduduzi deserves better than the situation he is now faced with. He deserves sanctuary, he deserves welcome, and above all, he deserves to make a home and build a future here in Ireland. This dream, and all the work he has done in the community is at risk of being destroyed if he is deported."
Rally in support of Mduduzi Ngwenya and Theo Ndlovu
A rally in support of Mr Ngwenya, and Theophilus ‘Theo’ Ndlovu [pictured above], another Galway based Zimbabwian threatened with deportation, and who is also very involved in the Galway city arts scene, takes place this Saturday at the Spanish Arch, from 1pm. It is hosted by the Save Mdu and Save Theo campaigns.
The organisers are calling on the public to attend, gathering at the Spanish Arch at 1pm and walking to Eyre Square for a cultural event featuring performances by singer-songwriter Padraig Stevens; the Ragairi Street performers, Theo “Touché” Ndlovu and ATMOS, Dead Horse Jive, The Barceló Brothers, and others.
“Galway is Ireland’s most diverse and multicultural city," said Julie Flavin of Atmos Collective. "In the spirit of Brigid and the feast day of Imbolg, on February 1 we will celebrate the new light and fresh ideas that this interculturalism brings and the creativity that people like Theo Ndlovu and Mduduzi Creative are bringing to communities across the country."
The event is supported by Amach LGBT Galway, Atmos Collective, Citóg Records, Galway Anti Racism Network, Galway Feminist Collective, Melting Pot Luck, Misneach, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, NUI Galway Student’s Union, Open Mic Night at Róisín Dubh, and Teach Solais LGBT Resource Centre.