Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

a guide to the traveller

by Tawona Sithole*

the traveller is a fascinating creature
noticeable by distinct marks and markings
noticeable by distinct noises and sounds
behaviours and oddities
traits and qualities
adaptable to different conditions and habitats
able not only to survive but thrive
the traveller is a remarkable creature

depending on conditions
the traveller will
amble or rumble
scramble or gamble
gallop or gather
climb or claw
depending on conditions
the traveller will
fly or defy
spoil or recoil
leap or sleep
lead or stampede
depending on conditions
the traveller
follows or is followed

depending on conditions
it’s a matter of
hiding or deciding
wading or waiting
depending on conditions
it’s a matter of
a clear path or clear the path

along the life long journey
there are many places the traveller will reach before arriving
depending on conditions
can be common middle or battle ground
depending on conditions
can be a breeze squeeze or freeze

there is time for the sublime
but it also brings a curse
there is time for the sunshine
but it also brings thirst

depending on conditions
the traveller is
prepared or scared
alone or among
ngongoni mbizi nekacheche

depending on no conditions
in the making of the journey
mapping of the journey
marking of the journey
the heart leaves distinct footprints


*Tawona Sithole is GRAMNet’s Poet in Residence and is also part of the Creative Arts and Translating Cultures Hub, within the AHRC funded project ‘Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State’. As part of a project called ‘Migration Museum’ – and in collaboration with Showman Media – ‘a guide to the traveller’ was made into a short film, which can be viewed below. Tawona’s reflections on this project have been published on the Researching Multilingually project blog, which can be found here.



Notes and Shona translations

A guide to the traveller
muganhu – point between two places
zambuko – crossing point on a river
ngongoni mbizi nekacheche – wildebeest zebra and the young one
gurusvusvu – large herd on the move

Shona song – with herd (playful, while lost)
shiri – bird
sango – forest

Shona poem – with herd (describing the landscape to soothe a crying baby)
shiri – bird
mhiri kwamungezi – across the river
achema – someone is crying
tsviyo goko (said at the very end, high pitch call gives a sense of return or relief)

Shona poem in crate (a call for people to light the fire so we can see where we are going)
kuzungaira – being lost
tungidzai mwenje – light a fire
mukwidza/makata – uphill
nzira – path
kunze kwavira – the sun is setting
sango – forest

‘behind the cage’ shot in pod 5
kukurukura hunge wapostwa – telling the tale is the survivor’s privilege



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on December 19, 2014 by in Comment and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: