Refugee Week: Wigan residents who fled Zimbabwe see their life stories turned into artwork

Two Wigan residents who fled strife-torn Zimbabwe are sharing their fascinating life experiences as part of Refugee Week.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 9:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 9:26 am
Artist Ibukun Baldwin with young people and their art for the exhibition
Artist Ibukun Baldwin with young people and their art for the exhibition

Esnath Sanangura and Shupikai Muchineuta, who came to the borough more than 18 years ago, will see their life stories on display in an exhibition held by Wigan Council and community group Everything Human Rights.

Children of local refugee families have been working with The Turnpike, Leigh, and Manchester-based artist Ibukun Baldwin to create artwork on the theme for the week, “We cannot walk alone,” which also forms part of the exhibition in Leigh Market Hall.

Refugee Week, which ends on Sunday, is a UK-wide initiative, celebrating the stories of refugees and their contributions to our society.

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Co-founders of Everything Human Rights group, Tabeth Mabiza-Nhakaniso and Farai Nhakaniso with Shupikai Muchineuta and Coun Paula Wakefield

Coun Paula Wakefield, lead member for equalities at the authority, said: “There are sometimes misunderstandings about refugees and why they may have come to the borough. We hope Refugee Week will help to raise awareness about some of the reasons why people might have to leave their home countries and some of the challenges they might face when seeking safety.”

“We cannot walk alone” was inspired by Martin Luther King’s historic speech during the American Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s when he talked about how the futures of both black and white people were intertwined.

Everything Human Rights was set up to support residents who have come to the borough from across the world. Children and young people who attend the organisation’s youth group explored stories of migration to the UK before retelling elements of the stories through their art.

Ibukun Baldwin, who specialises in visual and social arts, said: “Art can be a fantastic method to communicate a lot of information in a way that’s simple to absorb.

“We hope that when people see the children’s artwork, they will get a glimpse into the stories behind it.”

Ruth, 15, took part in the art workshops.

She said: “In this art project we’ve been helping some of the younger kids understand about some of the inequalities in the world.

“Refugee Week is really important because lots of people might have an idea in their minds about what it’s like to be a refugee, but they might not really understand.”

Joseph, 15, added: “It’s been a good way for us to express emotions. Art is also fun and easy for others to look at.

“Some people might be oblivious to what other people in their community might have been through. So this is a good week to try and understand.”

The exhibition is on show in Leigh Market Hall until Monday.

You can also read Esnath and Shupikai’s stories and find out more about Refugee Week on www.wigan.gov.uk/refugeeweek.

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