S9E5 John Marnell, Alejandra Oliva & Kudakwashe Vanyoro: Migration, Refuge and Solidarity

14 Sep 2023
S9E5 John Marnell, Alejandra Oliva & Kudakwashe Vanyoro: Migration, Refuge and Solidarity

Image credits: Alejandra Oliva by Anna Longworth

Kudakwashe Vanyoro interviews John Marnell and Alejandra Oliva about their books Seeking Sanctuary and Rivermouth. They deliberate about telling other people’s stories, the experiences of LGBTIQ migrants, immigration policies, translation, faith-based organisations and solidarity.

Kudakwashe Vanyoro is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Centre for Migration & Society at Wits. His writing has won the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) Alternative Voices Competition Prize for writers under 30, and the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) 2022 Lisa Gilad Prize. He is the author of the forthcoming book Migration, Crisis and Temporality at the Zimbabwe-South Africa Border: Governing Immobilities (Bristol University Press, 2024).

John Marnell is a Doctoral Researcher at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at Wits University. His work uses visual and narrative methodologies to explore the lived experiences of LGBTIQ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. He is the author of Seeking Sanctuary: Stories of Sexuality, Faith and Migration (Wits University Press, 2021) and with B Camminga co-edited Queer and Trans African Mobilities: Migration, Asylum and Diaspora (Zed Books, 2022).

Alejandra Oliva is an essayist, embroiderer, translator and immigrant justice advocate. Her writing has been included in Best American Travel Writing 2020, was nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was honoured with an Aspen Summer Words Emerging Writers Fellowship. Her book Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith and Migration (Astra House, 2023) received a Whiting Nonfiction Grant. She was the Yale Whitney Humanities Center Franke Visiting Fellow in Spring 2022.

In this episode we are in solidarity with Crimean Tatar citizen journalist and human rights defender Server Mustafayev. We call on the authorities in Russia to free him. You can read more about his case here.

As tributes to him, John reads “Teach the Nation Poetry” by Stella Nyanzi, Alejandra reads “Like You” by Roque Dalton (translated by Jack Hirschman) and Kuda reads an extract from the book he’s writing with his brother, Diaries of Border.

PEN South Africa joins the PEN community in mourning the journalists and writers who have been killed in Russia’s war on Ukraine, including Ukrainian writer Volodemyr Vakulenko who was featured in PEN International’s 2022 Case List, and PEN Ukraine member and human rights defender Victoria Amelina.

Listen to the episode here: