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Democratic Republic of Congo
30 years old
Lilongwe, Malawi
WhatsApp: +265-996-87-9942
Serge Kasongo is the Team Leader for Visual Arts and Crafts

Serge Kasongo

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Biography collected and written by Solomon Tejan Kanu

In a small town of Kalemie, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), lies the birthplace of Serge Kasongo. He lived there with his family of eight for several years until war entered their doorstep. His father was a Minister of Transportation (boats). Serge stated that rebels came to search for his father to kill him because of his political associations. His father was forced to abandon his family and went into hiding. To this day, Serge does not know whether or not his father is still alive, nor his whereabouts. Due to the endless killings that were occurring within his town, Serge and his family decided to depart to a neighboring province known as Katanga, the location of the city of Lubumbashi. This city is the third-largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has a population size of nearly 2.6 million residents.

After their arrival, the family continued to search for Serge’s father. Their only protector was a close friend of his father who kept them hidden. As time went by, Serge started to focus on his education and pursued his gifted talent as an artist. He was not only a visual artist, but also a gifted singer. In 2008, he completed his studies at “Les Beaux Arts'' (Fine Arts) high school in Lubumbashi. In 2013, he graduated from “Academie des Beaux Arts' ' (Fine Arts Academy) at the University of Kinshasa (in the city of Kinshasa) where he obtained a degree in painting.

In 2015, he returned to Lubumbashi where he continued to work as an artist. Having such accomplishments at such an early age illustrates the level of intelligence and persistence needed for his success.

A year later, at the age of 22, Serge and his older brother had to flee Lubumbashi due to threats on their lives associated with the ongoing political situation. They fled the country, leaving the rest of their family behind, to seek refuge in Malawi, where they settled in the Dzaleka refugee camp. His mother and other siblings remain in the DRC and are doing well.

On the first day of their arrival at Dzaleka, Serge and his brother felt as though they were going to perish. That feeling of entering a new environment while thinking about their loved ones can be felt by anyone in their position. Within the first year, Serge wasn’t active. Eventually, he found a passion teaching art to youths. He taught them how to draw with a pencil. He later received a generous gift of paint from the Salama Africa Creative Centre, an initiative to aid the youths in developing and showcasing their skills and talent within the camp so that they can bypass some of the barriers and restrictions that are holding them back. Serge taught his students at the center how to paint without requiring any payment.

As time went by, he met the love of his life, Antoinette, who is Malawian, and he acquired his own housing within the camp. His brother became a pastor. While living in Dzaleka, Serge started participating in many global events, such as the Tumaini Festival, a festival that happens annually within the camp. He has held exhibits at various venues in Malawian cities, outside of the camp.

Serge considers himself to be the “best of the best'' when it pertains to his art due to how many people have sought his aid in learning how to do art and by how many of his pieces he has sold. He usually sells them for around thirty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand Malawian kwacha (approximately $30-250). Being able to establish such a business requires an extensive amount of practice in negotiation. He typically sets a price for his work but sometimes gets counter-offers from his customers. He has become adept at negotiating deals that are beneficial to him.

Due to the limited number of resources within the camp, many people have become envious and jealous of Serge and his brother, who are relatively well off compared to many others. This jealously led to the attempted murder of his brother through poisoning, which convinced the brothers to leave the camp. They both now live in MalawiS capital of Lilongwe, a city with a population size of nearly a million residents. Typically refugees are prohibited from living outside the camp. Because Serge's brother is a pastor who now has his own church, the government gave them the authorization to bypass that restriction and live outside the camp.

Their life in the city is a lot better than that of the camp. Serge survives off his business selling art in order to provide for his family. While working on this project, he and his wife had their first daughter. He hopes that someday he’ll be able to have his own gallery to showcase to the rest of the world; all the amazing art from him,his students, and other refugees.

For more about Salama Africa Initiative, go to