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Meet Lamin Drammeh, refugee turned musician, actor, cultural mediator and accountant

Lamin Drammeh shows off his skills on the trumpet as a musician.

Africans in Italy. As young Gambians continue to flourish in different sectors in European society today, we bring you amazing stories of Lamin Drammeh, a Gambian based in Palermo City Italy, but also a actor, event organiser, musician and accountant.

Due to hostile political situations and lack of opportunities in his country, he decided to take the Mediterranean Sea through Italy in 2016 to make a name for himself. 

Lamin shared his journey, experience and dreams he has for the future with AfroNews Germany, below is the exclusive interview.

Please introduce yourself to our readers, including your educational background too

My name is Lamin Drammeh from The Gambia. I was born in The Gambia and I did my studies until I achieved a senior secondary school level in The Gambia. In the year of 2016 I moved to Europe “Italy” through the Mediterranean Sea and I am currently living in Italy in a city called Palermo, the capital city of Sicily.

After my arrival in Sicily, the first thing I wanted to know was how I was going to go to school and learn Italian because I knew it was fundamental for integration and, one of my main aims was to speak Italian and also be able to write it. I knew this would make communication easier and would allow me to be better integrated into the society. This led to an amazing journey as after learning Italian for years, I then decided to get a degree in economics at high school level and finally, this year I’m sitting my last exams .

Looking at my educational background, one would assume I was not strong enough but I made everything possible by having a dream to become someone tomorrow and at least be independent in future.

I learnt Italian at school then after attaining the language degree I decided to continue with my education to the senior secondary school level for financial and marketing.

Lamin Drammeh animated during a talk.

We understand that you are doing so many activities in Italy for integration and study can you please tell us some of your activities and what motivates you to do so?

I do lot of activities in Italy to bring togetherness, change, equality, integration etc.. Many people in Italy are aware that there are are lot of migrants and refugees, but the integration system for migrants in Italy is staggeringly unsatisfactory and this makes it difficult to get involved in social activities especially for someone like me. I have different talents and skills -I’m a musician, actor, cultural mediator and accountant.

In 2016 I started taking part in an organisation that helps migrants get involved in social activities and this began my integration journey. I decided to promote myself by show people about what I’m capable of doing then I started taking part in different activities, programs , manifestations , theatre, concerts etc.

I did many activities in public places, schools, theatres, European Parliament and even the global campus of human rights because I wanted to change the narration of migrants in Europe and show them what we’re capable of. This motivated me in the right direction and fuelled my consistency in my activities. I did sensitisation training at school and it saw me achieve different ways and opportunities to know good people and know the system in Europe.

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“I always believed in me and I knew that anything is possible, impossible is just a word.”

When I started doing activities and being involved in different programs many people had the thought that what I was doing was not useful – because people were going to work and trying to find jobs and I was focusing on this social activities. By then they didn’t know what I was having a very different mindset from them.

My aim is to become someone responsible and independent. From the onset of my journey, I knew It was part of me and my dream to become an actor and influencer and that keeps me motivated that in anything you want to be in the world, there are possibilities.

I want to change the narrative around migrants, especially Africans living in Europe and show people what we’re capable of doing.

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You’re an actor, accountant and cultural mediator, can you tell us the journey like the challenges and achievements?

Becoming an actor, musician and cultural mediator needs lot of time and sacrifice. At first, I was experiencing a lot of difficulties going to school after work because where I was working was 1 hr 30 minutes from my city. I was patient because I knew there was going to be a better tomorrow.

I didn’t have any professional skills so I asked myself want can I do in the future and who do I want to become? It was so hard to achieve some of my dreams but finally it came a time I was getting all what I want but with a sacrifice and lot of challenges. I was living alone paying rent bills and doing everything by myself while studying and that frustrated me to end my studies and find a job.

As a migrant in Italy, when you’re doing your studies the government don’t support you, you need to become strong enough to achieve your dreams. 

I made the achievement of becoming independent, knowing the system, having all necessary documents, opportunities to participate in different events, working skills, school certificate, project qualifications etc.

Coming from refugee what are some of the challenges you faced in Italy?

Refugees face lot of difficulties in Italy when it comes to terms of living and studies. As I mentioned before, as a refugee in Italy when you going to school while in a refugees centre or camps, the government gives you short period of time to settle down and within that short period you can’t finish your studies and find a job. If you’re someone who is ready to study and get degrees, go to university etc. it becomes so hard you need to know someone who can help you to continue your studies.

If you can’t find anyone then you end up being in the street and that causes lot of migrants to work in farms, become drug-peddlers, restaurants and sleeping in the street. While I was in the migrant’s centre I faced a lot of difficulties as I would get short periods of time to finish/continue my studies and do my activities.

I left school after failing to find a job because I needed to find a home where I can live and finish my studies but it was so difficult. The government didn’t give me the possibility to have such an opportunity to finish my projects. I moved to Malta for 6/7 months to find money and come back to Italy and rent a house to continue with my studies but by then I had a passion for acting, music and cultural mediating.

Lamin Drammeh performing in the streets of Italy.

What is your vision and mission as a young actor, entrepreneur and cultural mediator in the years to come?

In the future I just want to focus on my acting career because I dream of becoming a big actor, creating my own company, giving support to other young actors, artists, musicians and promote our culture when it comes to the arts etc. I want to support young artist who really need help and show their talents – in Africa we have few famous international actors so I want to be one among them and share our cultures with the western world .

What is your advice to the young refugees in Italy or Europe in terms of sustainable reintegration?

My advice is, first let us obey the rules and the regulations of each state. When you arrive in Europe, your first target/option should be going to school and learning the language because it make communication easy and integration faster.

Also, engage yourself in social activities, participate in events, projects, manifestation, programs and most impportanlty, get to know good people. Build a strong relationship where you living and build a future for your tomorrow.

If you lack skills go and learn a professional course and if your dream is to study, focus on this when you’re in the migration or refugee centres because after that you might not have the possibility to do so. Profit from the little time you spend at the centres, stay ready to face challenges and try to be responsible and independent!

Was a pleasure for meeting you. Salut!

Gambian refugee turned artist Lamin Drammeh performs during a play.