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Balibo 5: Rappers visit Timor to mark 40th anniversary of journo' deaths

ABC News - September 13, 2015

Jessica Longbottom – It is almost 40 years since a group of Australian journalists known as the Balibo Five were gunned down by Indonesian forces in East Timor on October 16, 1975.

There will be ceremonies across Australia and East Timor marking their deaths, but the brother of killed sound recordist Tony Stewart wanted to do something more.

Paul Stewart said he wanted to mark it in a happy way rather than a sombre gathering at a cemetery. "And I knew I just had to get these boys up there because the locals will go off," he said.

The "boys" are Fablice Manirakiza and Frolent Irakiza, two former child soldiers from Burundi in East Africa, who rap about their experiences under the name Flybz. The duo now call Melbourne home.

Stewart, a former member of Melbourne band Painters and Dockers, has become their mentor and helped record some of their music.

To mark the 40th anniversary of his brother's death, Stewart decided to take the pair on a tour of East Timor to perform around the country. Manirakiza said it was a surprisingly emotional experience.

"It was completely mind-blowing because we told him 'Paulie, you said you'd never been in Burundi. But this is exactly like Burundi'," he said. "It gave us [the same] sort of emotional kind of reaction of being back home. It was so joyful."

'Like touring with Jay-Z and Kanye West'

Stewart and Flybz toured East Timor for nine days recently, visiting four schools including one for children with a disability. "We had Jesuits dancing on stage, kids doing backflips, it just went off," Stewart said.

On their first night in East Timor, Flybz played to 4,000 people in the capital Dili in a concert televised live across the country.

Stewart said it was like touring with Jay-Z and Kanye West. "You couldn't go anywhere without them being swamped by fans," he said.

Irakiza said the trip reminded him of life growing up in a refugee camp in Tanzania, and made him think about how far he had come since arriving in Australia eight years ago.

"It felt like I was performing for the kids I grew up with, and the parents who helped my mum raise me up. So all of it was too good," he said.

"After the performances, I even had a big think afterwards about my past life and everything that had happened. I just had a little prayer and appreciated everything I had."

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-13/rappers-visit-east-timor-to-mark-balibo-five-deaths/6768962