Coming of Age in Exile
Francesca Declich (Università di Urbino 'Carlo Bo')
Paper short abstract:
Somali Bantu refugees interviewed in Tanzania and the US recount their lives, worries, aspirations and efforts of integration in their countries of asylum. The film compares views of young and older people who now live in very different environments following brief or extended stays in refugee camps
Paper long abstract:
Coming of Age in Exile (35', 2011) has been shot in areas where the Somali Bantu refugees have been offered resettlement in Tanzania and the United States. The documentary texture follows narratives recounted by Somali Bantu refugees interviewed in the village of Chogo and the town of San Diego which highlight both constrains and opportunities embedded in the contexts and countries where the refugees have been offered asylum following brief or extended stays in refugee camps. Expectations of younger and older people are different and rarely coincide with the chances available in the countries of asylum; disillusion may provoke anxieties. Racism from Black Americans is an issue that refugees in the United States did not envisage whereas unemployment after university education was unimaginable for those who settled in Tanzania. Many young people are firmly motivated to strengthen their education in order to help their families both in the US and in Africa but, often, do not find access even to secondary education. The experiences in refugee camps shed new light on lives in exile as they play an important role in decisions concerning migratory projects. Patterns of migration count on the opportunities offered in refugee camps which, however, may become destinations where utopian migratory objective are nurtured and hopes dashed.