Migration Stories - Saziso Phiri

I am a child of migrants who moved to the UK from Zimbabwe in the early 80s.

My mum came straight from Zimbabwe to the UK to train as a nurse in Bradford, and my dad studied in Texas before joining my mum to settle in Nottingham where the married and had 3 children - including me, their favourite child (just joking!) My parents didn’t come from much materially speaking, and were able to provide myself and my siblings with a life that often exceeded comfortable, however growing up in the UK to migrant parents wasn’t always easy, and I recall the media representation of Africa whilst growing up to be very negative. I am ashamed to admit that I spent a large part of my formative years feeling ashamed of my African heritage.

I strongly believe that representation, education and celebration are massively important when it comes to learning more about ourselves and others. There are a number of events and festivals that take place all over the country that allows myself and others to access to celebrate and feel proud of my heritage. That’s not to say that my parents didn’t teach us the best of their culture, or that I didn’t learn, but growing up and wanting to be cool, I was conditioned into thinking that being of African heritage was a bad thing. It excites me to see 1st and 2nd generation migrant children embracing their culture from a young age with the help of a much more positive media representation.

That is not to say that things are perfect in our society - we have a very long way to go and festivals like Migration Matters are important. They allow people from all communities to get together, celebrate, learn and embrace each other’s culture. We begin to understand and have empathy for one another - this with the hope of uniting in order to combat the false narratives and negative stigmas surrounding migrants and in a positive light. I am really excited about this year’s festival and looking forward to learning more through all the activity - not just as someone working on it but also as a spectator!

Saziso - Producer, Migration Matters #migmatfest19

Ben Carlin