Past events

Francophone Refugees in England

An Evening of History and Poetry

Immigration in the UK and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe are hot topics today. But what do you know about the history and current situation of French and French-speaking refugees in England?

The evening will be in three parts:

Dr Siobhan Brownlie, lecturer at the University of Manchester, will discuss two groups of Francophone refugees: the Huguenots, a group of French Protestants who arrived in England in the 17th century, and Congolese refugees who have fled war and insecurity in their country since the 1980s.

This presentation will be followed by a reading of poems written by Mrs Philomène Ndaya Mujinga, who comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is an asylum seeker in Manchester. Siobhan will undertake a mini-interview with Philomène in order to reflect on the topics of her poems.

The evening will finish with questions and answers from the audience, and a general discussion of the themes presented.

Siobhan Brownlie is a lecturer at the University of Manchester where she is programme director of the Masters in Intercultural Communication. She has written two books on collective memory, and is currently undertaking research on the preservation of the memory of refugees in the United Kingdom.

Philomène Ndaya Mujinga comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is an asylum seeker in the UK and currently lives in Manchester. She is a member of WAST, Women Asylum Seekers Together. She participates in the the choir and in writing activities at WAST.

Friday 20 October at 6pm

The evening is free and open to all. French and English will be spoken.

Please call us on 0161 2367117 or send us an e-mail on for further information.

You will find below a poem written in French by Philomène Ndaya Mujinga called "Afrique" and the translation underneath.


Oh Afrique, mon fleuve rose que j’aime
Oh Afrique, toi que je découvre par le colon français et anglais
Oh Afrique, tu es un fleuve rose de mon escalier
Oh Afrique, nous avons marché sur toi, sous un soleil d’été qui nous donnait la joie
Oh Afrique, nous avons été allaité de toi comme un bébé qui tète le sein de sa mère sans nous refuser de ta robe de terre
Oh Afrique, ils ont fait une conférence à Berlin pour te partager comme un gâteau
Oh Afrique, chacun d’eux leur morceau de gâteau avec joie
De toi je ne pouvais pas avoir un téléphone portable mais ils ont pris le coltan de la RDC
Oh Afrique, tu m’as construite
On te porte dans les mains pour boire de ta richesse
Diamants, cobalt, cuivre, zinc, uranium, pétrole, coltan, cacao et autres
Oh Afrique, belle que tu es, et riche terre, merci car tu m’as servie avec amour
Oh Afrique, tu resteras toujours à mes côtés, la belle rose que tu es
Oh Afrique, ta verdure est une lampe pour nous
Je t’aime Afrique mais je suis loin de toi
Tu les as rendus riches, tu es là pour eux
Ils me donnent du lait et du miel sans pain
Ils gardent les fils d’Afrique partout


Oh Africa, my pink river that I love
Oh Africa, you that I discover through the French and English colonist
Oh Africa, you are the pink river of my staircase
Oh Africa, we walked on you under a Summer sky which gave us joy
Oh Africa, we were nursed by you like a baby who sucks at the mother’s breast
Without refusing us your earth robe
Oh Africa, they had a conference in Berlin to share you like a cake
Oh Africa, each of them joyous with their piece of cake
From you I could not have a mobile phone but they took coltan from the DRC
Oh Africa, you built me
You are carried in hands to drink your wealth
Diamonds, cobalt, copper, zinc, uranium, oil, coltan, cocoa and others
Oh Africa, beautiful as you are, and rich land, thank you for you served me with love
Oh Africa, you will always remain at my side, the beautiful rose that you are
Oh Africa, your verdure is a lamp for us
I love you Africa but I am far from you
You made them rich, you are there for them
They give me milk and honey without bread
They keep the children of Africa everywhere