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Giving young migrants and refugees a voice

Complex Past, Diverse Futures, aims to articulates opinions and sentiments of African youth. SUPPLIED

Complex Past, Diverse Futures, aims to articulates opinions and sentiments of African youth. SUPPLIED

Published Dec 11, 2021

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Cape Town - While 2021 revealed inequalities in many aspects of society, Africa Unite School Club compiled an anthology titled Complex Past, Diverse Futures, which articulates the opinions and sentiments of African youth by emphasising the plight and grievances of migrants and refugee pupils who were ostracised by the system.

The five-part book narrates the stories of pupils who participated in the club's art therapy session, poems that promote African origins, and empathy letters that aim to validate the voice and sentiments of young Africans.

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Grade 12 Gardens Commercial pupil Therezia Mateza describes Complex Past, Diverse Futures in her poem Alkebulan. MURPHY NGANGA

Alkebulan, which is one of the poems in the book written by Grade 12 Gardens Commercial pupil Therezia Mateza, explains that even though Africa unfortunately succumbed to colonial ideals and principals, unity will free the continent.

“Alkebulan is the oldest and only indigenous term that means ‘mother of mankind’. I wrote this poem to teach people in and outside of Africa about our continent's history, and how our continent used to be a peaceful land, where its people were proud of their origins and lived in harmony until the oppressors arrived.

“The poem also talks about the borders that exist to divide us. Given the uncertain times we currently live in, the poem aims to be a wake-up call and serve as an introspective narrative, that could help us understand where we have come from and where we are going, because as an African saying goes, ‘Unity is power, and division is weakness’,” said Mateza.

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Africa Unite spokesperson Nikelwa Mqwabalala said while the lack of documentation remained a problem for most young refugees and migrants, the book describes the feeling of uncertainty and belonging.

“The pandemic has been a rude awakening to the actual displacement of refugees, leaving many with no support and even stricter bureaucratic lines to documentation. Migrant learners that have been excelling academically were stunted at peak time when they had to write their NBTs (National Benchmark Tests) and the lack of documentation remained a problem for most young refugees and migrants, further fuelling the uncertainty of belonging.”

“We hope that readers will have a better understanding of the general background of migration in Africa, as well as the consequences of poorly managed integration. We believe that our brothers and sisters can work together to build a more socially integrated society, build a united African movement so that future generations do not have to go through the same challenges our system presented. Through this book, we hope to kindle a flame of togetherness in Africa via the youthful voices that cry out for a brighter future,” said Mqwabalala.

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