Last updated: 9 october, 2009 - 12:21 GMT


Memento, part two

Bubakar's memento, a silver chain and coin

Bubakar's memento is this chain and coin bearing his wife's name

Imagine that conflict and violence force you to flee your country, leaving behind all that you know and love.

In the chaos and panic, you have to choose a single object to take with you - something so full of resonance that it will always remind you of the life and people that you left behind.

To those of us living in the comfortable West, it sounds like an intriguing parlour game. But every day, all over the world, thousands of people are forced to confront that choice - for real.

In this two-part series, we hear from four such people living in Britain.

Each one has a memento that is now their only tangible link with the past.

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Bubakar, from Guinea, wears his memento around his neck. It's a silver chain that holds a coin engraved with his wife's name - a reminder of the hopes they had, before he was imprisoned and tortured.

In part two, we hear from Fungayi, a political activist and musician from Zimbabwe, it's an mbira - a traditional musical instrument, now out of tune and held together with sellotape, but treasured, because it evokes memories of home and of better times.

These mementos are a way of unlocking a series of secret personal stories that tie into the wider currents of contemporary history. And through them, we begin to understand what compels people to abandon their homes and families, for a future among strangers.

Presented by Vera Frankl.

First broadcast on Friday 2 October 2009



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