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Africans in Tasmania

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177 Nations of Tasmania
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A curated playlist of the personal stories of migrants of African origin who have made lives for themselves in Tasmania. They come from very diverse countries in Africa with different experiences and with both similar and very different reasons for being on this island Continue Reading >> A curated playlist of the personal stories of migrants of African origin who have made lives for themselves in Tasmania. They come from very diverse countries in Africa with different experiences and with both similar and very different reasons for being on this island << Show Less
Cecilia : From farm life in Kenya to study in Australia Kenya is probably best known in Australia for its long distance runners and safari parks, and it's not generally been a big source of migrants here, so it's perhaps why our knowledge of its people and culture are limited.
Cecilia currently lives in Launceston, working as a project manager in the health sector. As is very common in much of sub-Saharan African, she grew up on a small farm in a rural town amongst vegetable gardens and animals. In common with other Africans I've interviewed, Cecilia was surrounded by extended family, something that is of much greater importance than it is here, and we talk more about that in this episode. She also came from a family that valued and pushed the importance of education, and it is perhaps this that provided the starting impetus for Cecilia to eventually decide to do her Masters in Melbourne, and after that eventually find a job in Launceston.
Anna from the Seychelles : Trading one island paradise for another ? The Seychelles is a small collection of islands in the Indian Ocean, a nation of a little less than 100,000 inhabitants. It's the home of coral reefs, rocky forested islands, sandy beaches and green turtles, and Anna, who moved to Launceston to be with her partner , Marcus, around 4 years ago.
Anna used to work in the tourist industry but Tasmania has helped consolidate a new career path she'd already started moving on, and has given her a bit work-life balance.
In this episode, we talk about some of the unique aspects of living in the Seychelles, both the natural environment and the close-knit community where everyone knows each other…this may even sound a bit familiar to people in some parts of Tasmania.
Aidan Tkay – Born and bred in Uganda, but roots in Rwanda Aidan Tkay was born in Uganda to parents of Rwandan heritage. He grew up in the crowded city of Kampala at a school with many different African nationalities whose families had sought safe haven in Uganda, In his teens he became passionate about music and performance and he has brought this passion to Tasmania and has performed his Afrobeats-influenced music at numerous local events. A trained social worker, he went from working for NGOs in refugee camps in central Africa to now working in disability services in Hobart.
You can hear some of his music here –
Eddie – From Tanzania to Tasmania After living the first 32 years of his life on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, Eddie Mohammed married a Tasmanian lady and made the decision to leave his old life behind and start anew on the vastly different island of Tasmania. Settling in was hard, with the challenges including the weather, finding employment ,adjusting to unfamiliar social customs and no African population to speak of all facing him. A chance meeting led Eddie to joining a local soccer club and sport proved to be his pathway to feeling more at home – he got work and a social network. Eddie now coaches youth soccer and has coached and mentored young African migrants, and his influence has often extended beyond the soccer pitch.
Ruth : Fleeing persecution in Eritrea, finding safety in Tasmania A common response when I've mentioned Eritrea is "Where is that?" or "I've never heard of that country". Eritrea is a country on the Horn of Africa, bordering Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Since then it has been a one-party state with, according to Human Rights Watch, one of the worst human right records in the world. As a result, many Eritreans have fled the country to escape persecution or the country's compulsory and indefinite military service. In recent years, more and more Eritreans have settled in Tasmania, with the community now estimated in the hundreds.
Ruth ( not her real name ) agreed to talk with me about her story of escaping Eritrea to an refugee camp in Ethiopia and sharing some of her experiences of settling down in Tasmania in the last 3 years. I hope that Ruth's story will help others appreciate the difficult realities many refugees face once they have fled their country and appreciate better what to us are unthinkable conditions that drive people to flee their home.
Boyd from Zimbabwe : Leaving the past behind and making a new home When Boyd arrived in Australia with his family at 18 years old, his father's first act, perhaps a symbolic one, was to take the family out for a seafood lunch and told his children that Zimbabwe was where they were brought up, but if anyone asked to say "Australia is my home now". Advice Boyd credits with helping him settle down in the new country much quicker.
Years later he returned to Zimbabwe with his father and heard for the first time about some of his father's experiences as a soldier in the war leading up to independence in 1980, experiences which had long-term impacts on his father ( as with many veterans of armed conflicts).
Edward from Nigeria : Finding familiarity in Launceston With a librarian mother, Edward's early life was immersed in books, and planted a seed of curiosity to see the world outside his own country. Growing up in an English-speaking environment that was heavily influenced by British culture, meant that Edward has not felt the "culture shock" so much of adapting to places, and he has a lived in a few before Launceston. In fact, Edward has found much that is relatable in Launceston to a similiarly sized city in Nigeria.
For many Australians, their knowledge of Nigeria is often limited to the ubiquituous Nigerian email scams of years past, but as Africa's most populous country and a major centre for film and music, it deserves more attention, and Edward reveals some aspects of Nigerian society and culture that may surprise.
Music :

"Tafi Maradi" Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Piera : No return to Libya Piera was born in Libya to parents of Italian and Maltese extraction just after the Second World War. Although her family had lived there for two generations, there was a growing hostility towards people of fairer, more European appearance, so Piera's father decided to move the family to Australia, where they had relatives living in Melbourne. Piera was only 9 when the family arrived in Melbourne with barely a word of English when she started school. Of course, once the family left Libya, they could never return.
Piera would eventually move, somewhat reluctantly, with her husband, to the small town of Wilmot in North-west Tasmania, an area with a reasonable community of alternative lifestylers, but eventually she would fall in love with the place. She now lives in Devonport, within sight of the port and the Spirit of Tasmania, the main sea route for visitors to and from the island.
Nizam from Ethiopia : The impact of getting an education Ethiopians now make up one of Tasmania's largest African communities, and their numbers have grown noticably in recent years. But how much do Tasmanians know about Ethiopia and Ethiopian culture ? My guess is not that much, and yet Ethiopia is not only one of the larger and more significant countries in Africa, it has a complex history and culture, which is reflected in the different peoples of Ethiopian origin settling in Tasmania.
Although many Ethiopians have settled here through Australia's Humanitarian visa program, Nizam arrived on a scholarship to study his Ph.D at the University of Tasmania, and he has just recently submitted his thesis realting to Resource Management.
He is also part of the Oromo people, one of several major groups in Ethiopia, with their own language and traditions. In our conversation, Nizam painted a vivid picture of daily life in rural Ethiopia growing up and describe how his father single him out to be the one in the family to get a proper education and taking him away from the farm life that his siblings were destined for and would eventually lead to tertiary studies in Ethiopia, Germany and now Tasmania.
He also explains the unique Gadaa System, recognised by UNESCO, a traditional democratic system of making important decisions and regulating life amongst the Oromo community. Amongst other things, Ethiopia is claimed to be the origin place of coffee, and Nizam explains its great significance in the life and culture of Ethiopians.
Helen : Leaving the heaviness of Apartheid South Africa Helen was born and bred in South Africa to English parents. Though her upbringing was privileged compared to many others, she was aware from a young age of both politics and the social and racial inequality that permeated South African society, and her family was opposed to the apartheid system. She would eventually meet Owen, an Australian man in South Africa after hitch-hiking through Africa and to cut a long story short, they ended up in Launceston, Tasmania, where they have lived for around 40 years.
Adjusting the life in Australia and Tasmania was not as easy as Helen had expected. Despite coming from an English-speaking country, there were certain things that were vastly different
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