Migration Stories - Tchiyiwe Chihana

Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire to Zambian born parents, my existence is a tapestry of migration through generations. My formative years were lived in the stunningly happy country of Zambia where my 3 Malawian grandparents re-settled at different points in their lives. These inheritances by country of heritage and birth are a minor snapshot in to whom and what I identify with. I am an admirer of those who describe their heritage beyond the monolith of "I am Japanese or I am Kenyan." Instead, their identity is served with a dash of ownership and colour by saying, "I am Japanese-American, Kenyan-Mexican," etc. a feat, I might never achieve in singular conversations. My answer to "where are you from?," depends highly on the degree of emotion I am investing in to cornering myself in to the reductionist simplicity of what someone else wants to hear, such as "I am from Rumphi or Mzuzu in Malawi" where my paternal grandparents were born. My heart dances to a more complex rhythm of identity which I gloriously embrace.

Our heritage is multi dimensional, intricately interwoven in rich stories that can be transitional such as my granny Maqala's family's refuge in Zambia, or transactional as would be the case for the colonial legacy of the British empire. My migration by heritage, birth and later by choice when I undertook my undergraduate studies in South Africa, and subsequently settled back in the UK are all me.

Migration Matters Festival is an artistic reflection of the various migration stories that define humanity. I am proud to be a Trustee of such a brilliant initiative that brings together everybody's individuality. It's one of the few remaining safe spaces where people can comfortably unleash their multi-faceted identities and be celebrated.

TCHIYIWE CHIHANA: Trustee and Assistant Producer, Migration Matters Festival

Sam Holland