Video: Lia Bairu – From an Eritrean Pop Star to a Refugee in Switzerland

From an Eritrean Pop Star to a Refugee



Software Translation from German | September 5, 2017



 Lia Bairu in her new home in Wolhusen. (Picture: Natalie Ehrenzweig)



Since 1986, there have been more than 45,000 asylum seekers from Eritreans in Switzerland. One of them is Lia Bairu. The 48-year-old has left not only friends and family, but also a life as a famous singer. Now she lives in Wolhusen – and longs for her husband and her work as a singer.



The tours not only traveled around the African continent but also to the USA or Canada. The singer Lia Bairu is a pop star in Eritrea. Already as a teenager she began to sing and dance, although she did not come from a musical family. “Then I participated in a film. From then on I was in the public, “recalls the Eritrean. At the beginning she is in her early 20s and has her own band, with whom she plays jazz and pop. “We had many concerts, also in Europe,” the 48-year-old says with bright eyes. When Lia Bairu talks about music, her face changes, she often smiles.



The Eritrean grows in a village about 30 kilometers outside of Eritrea’s capital Asmara. Her parents are from Lia Bairu’s desire to be a musician, not particularly enthusiastic. “No parents want that for their children. But once they all came to a concert in the USA. My family cried because they saw the big audience. Then they supported me, too, “the singer muttered mischievously.





“It was a difficult decision”



Four years ago then the big cut in Lia Bairu’s life. She fled to Switzerland. “I love my country. But I do not agree with the government, “she emphasizes. Her voice is instantly quiet. At that time she left her husband and children in Eritrea and saved herself in Switzerland. “I am alive,” the singer replies to the question of what you like in Switzerland. She can not talk about the concrete threat, the specific reason for escape.



The human rights situation in Eritrea is considered precarious. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that more men from Eritrea fled to Switzerland than women. “Flight is dangerous and hard, even physical. You go through the desert for days. Before that, many women may be afraid, “she says. Lia Bairu does not like to talk about the flight. “It was a tough decision. I lost not only my life as a pop star, but also my husband and my children, “she stressed. Meanwhile, the 48-year-old has been given asylum and was able to take her two sons (23 and 16) to Wolhusen. “My husband can not flee at the moment,” she says sadly. After all, she could talk with him from time to time.



At the moment, she can not sing



That Lia Bairu landed in Switzerland is a coincidence. She would not have known anything about the country before she came. “But I love it here,” she says emphatically. In Switzerland, everyday life is mainly about learning German. The music has left her, so to speak, in Eritrea. “It’s hard to make music here. You need money for instruments, pro space, and so on. In addition, the band was like a family. But someday I will sing again. This is my big dream because I miss the music very much, “she says. For her, music means the world. “Love, sadness. It’s all in music, “she says.





Although she had to left family, friends and music in Eritrea, she did not regret the flight. “I am feeling good here. The people are respectful and it is quiet. Of course, I still miss my home, the warmer weather. Yes, even bad things are sometimes missed, “she says, smiling. But Lia Bairu is very hard to live in the now. And confidently looking ahead: “I trust that one day I will be together with my husband again and make music again.”




Lia Bairu - From an Eritrean Pop Star to a Refugee in Switzerland