Breaking Borders Documentaries

A radio documentary series produced by CMFD for FAHAMU Networks for Social Justice, with support from the Open Society Foundation (OSF). The project brought together South African community radio journalists and both internal and external migrants to chronicle the often unheard stories of migration to Johannesburg, providing migrants with an opportunity to access media and tell their stories, and building capacity of radio journalists to report on migration.

“The time the war came to my country, I had to look for a country that was far, where I believed they cannot get me"

Southern Africa has a long history of mobile populations. Economic and political instability in neighbouring countries

Links to related CMFD work

CMFD's media and communication
around migration issues

May 21, 2011 - "Many Faces,
One Africa migrants' concert

means that South Africa is at the focal point of this movement. Many come fromcountries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, etc, looking for a better life, yet often find difficulties and hardships. Yet we rarely hear the stories of how it is for a Zimbabwean to leave their home, or what it is like to be a refugee from Congo, qualified to be a teacher or nurse, and unable to find any kind of work in their new home country. We rarely hear the voices of the many farm workers, miners, etc, and do often not consider the many issues related to migration. At the same time, since many of these issues are sensitive, and many migrants difficult to access, media and journalists are challenged to report accurately and effectively on these issues. This project aims to address this gap in media access.

Breaking Borders Promo









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 The Stories

DianaJenny’s Story

Click to listen to Jenny's story
Jenny Ndamwemezi is a 25-year old refugee from Burundi. She and her younger sister were forced to leave their home in 1994 after their parents were killed in the civil war. When they arrived in South Africa four years later, they had nowhere to go and slept on the streets. Fortunately, a family friend found them and took them in. Two years later, Jenny was brutally gang raped while walking home from school. She was only 14. Like many migrants who suffer sexual abuse, she did not report the incident to the police, or go to a hospital. Jenny still struggles to cope with the psychological effects of the rape. She currently volunteers with Islamic Relief, assisting other refugees – particularly women and orphans like herself – and works hard to support her two loving children.

Ana_sAna's Story

Click to listen to Ana's story
Ana Ndlomo is a young woman from Mpumalanga who migrated to Johannesburg in 2004. Soon after she arrived, she met Connie, who helped her find a place to stay and some work. In 2004, Ana discovered she was HIV positive, and probably contracted the disease from her husband. Ana struggled with the diagnosis, but eventually came to accept that it did not mean the end of her life. She now works part time with the sex worker’s advocacy organisation Sisonke, educating sex workers in hotels and on the streets about safer sex, condom use, and HIV counseling and testing.


Darius_sDarius’ Story

Click to listen to Darius's story
Darius Kwigomba is a 32-year old refugee activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When civil war broke out in 1998 he was forced to flee the country, and came to Johannesburg. When he arrived, he knew no one, had no place to stay, no food and no job. He struggled to access services available for refugees because he didn’t know what rights he had. He worked hard selling vegetables and working as a security guard to pay for college. He now works with the Coordinating Body of Migrant and Refugee Communities defending the rights of other refugees and migrants.

FaraiFarai's Story

Click to listen to Farai's Story
Farai Chinomwe is a Zimbanwean musician living in Johannesburg. He came to the city after being given the opportunity to study. After his study plans fell through, he began to make his living playing the mbira – or finger piano. Farai is passionate about the mbira, understanding its spiritual significance. He is also passionate about music, and the ability of music to speak all languages and cross all cultures. In May 2008, Farai’s mbiras, as well as his home, were destroyed during the xenophobic attacks. The loss crushed his spirit. Since then, he has been working to bring people and communities together by planting trees and getting back to nature.

Onyebuchi1_sOnyi's Story

Click to listen to Onyi's story
Onyebuchi Onyejieke is a 20-year old Nigerian-born basketball player living in Johannesburg. He has lived in South Africa since he was 13 and is the sole provider for himself and his younger sister. He works as a basketball and soccer coach at a local high school to make ends meet. Onyii dreams of one day pursuing his studies at University and playing professional basketball overseas. Onyi is one of thousands of young migrants making it on their own in South Africa. He is also one among hundreds of young migrant athletes searching for better opportunities through sport.




More about the project

FaraiThe project aims to foster a greater understanding of migration issues among radio journalists, and improve their ability to report on such issues. It is hoped that increased dialogue and improved coverage will begin to change negative public perceptions toward migrant communities in South Africa. In addition, by providing migrant communities with an opportunity to access media, the project aims to increase their understanding of the media, and equip them with the tools and confidence to interact with their local media.

In brief, the project involved a oneweeklong workshop that brought together radio journalists with people from mobile populations. The aim of the workshop was to build knowledge and skills, while also using those skills hands-on to create a series of radio documentaries about various issues. At the workshop radio journalists worked with migrants to create a documentary on a specific topic. These would be distributed to radio stations for broadcast, as well as organisations to be used as a training tool. Accompanying background/ fact sheets aim to facilitate greater media coverage on the issues.

By providing a safe space for journalists and migrant communities to share experiences, stories and skills, the workshop gave participants the opportunity to find common ground and gain new perspectives. The practical training programme will ensure that participants are able to use the skills they learn, better enabling them to put those skills into practice in their radio stations and communities after the workshop ends. In addition, by distributing the programmes and guide to radio stations and community groups, the project will ensure wide exposure of the issues, and facilitate increased discussion and debate.

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