Matilda Chanda leads fellow asylum seekers on tours of Glasgow, Scotland

Matilda Chanda – Asylum seeker in Scotland

Matilda Chanda, who is originally from Zambia, led a group of asylum seekers on walking tours of Glasgow as part of a project run by the Scottish Refugee Council. The idea is that they learn more about their adopted home and people in the city learn more about them and their lives.

“I just want to show people that even if we are asylum seekers we can still do something,” says Chanda.

“So that they can look at us in a different perspective.”

Glasgow may look glorious in the low autumn sunshine but for many city dwellers the demands of a busy life mean they may not even notice much of what is around them.

This is not just about Scotland though, the idea is that each stop on the tour relates to something about the women’s home countries and allows them to talk about what is different and what is the same. The women have chosen which stories they want to share.

Glasgow Cathedral leads to a story about the status of different religions in Africa Glasgow Cathedral leads to a story about the status of different religions in Africa

The group comes to a halt at a busy traffic junction to gaze up at the Tolbooth steeple. Its history as a prison prompts Ms Chanda to share something about prison conditions in Zambia.

Glasgow cathedral leads to a story not just about the cathedral itself, but about the status of different religions in Africa.

“Traditionally women’s voices are not very well represented within the asylum system,” says Victoria Beesley who has been working with the Scottish Refugee Council to develop the tours.

“So it provided a really good opportunity to use Glasgow’s sights and buildings and history to serve as a starting point for these women’s voices to be given a bit of value.”

“All of them have experienced, to varying degrees, bits of racism, bits of negative opinion towards them as refugees and asylum seekers, so this is really a way for them to claim Glasgow as their own city, to share their views of the city in a really positive way.”

Asylum seekers come to the UK and Scotland from many countries, but according to the Scottish Refugee Council, some of the key ones are Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

The walkers chat as they wend their way around the city. They are here for various reasons.

“We just thought this would be a fantastic chance of seeing the city and learning about its history. It was just so interesting to hear stories about where they’re from.”

But again there is something of Africa to share as she tells them about the “informal settlements” and the risk of fire from candles.

“If one candle falls and one shack burns down,” she says, “that shack can catch all the other shacks around it and that’s half the community destroyed.”

And as she walks round, Matilda Chanda has this verdict on the tour.

“It has to do with sharing ideas and it’s about people from different backgrounds coming together and sharing something in common”.

5 comments

  1. Raibert, Glasgow.

    @Musonda S (S for stupid)

    Hey, stupid – everyone is not “free to live where ever they want” so take your moronic comment and stuff it! The fact that everyone is not free to live wherever they want allows countries to get rid of the seekers whom we do not want to stay, ie deport.

    What you know obviously isn’t very much. If Glasgow was full of freeloaders, how would hard-working Glaswegians support the freeloading foreign seekers and refugees like you who think and erroneously claim they are free to live wherever they want – and out of the wage packets of other people.

  2. @Raibert, Glasgow put a sock in it! Everyone is free to live where ever they want so take your unsavoury comment and stuff it! From what I know Glasgow is full of freeloaders like you and only the English have rescued that city. As for Matilda I hope the asylum seekers are not all Zambian because how on earth does a Zambian claim asylum in this country? I suppose it is to buy them time to have their cases heard.

  3. Campbell Brand

    @Lifestyle

    You ask a good question. Zambia seems to me not to be a repressive country. Perhaps your friends at UKZambians can give some examples of asylum seekers from your country applying here for refugee status. Matilda Chanda is one asylum seeker. She was seeking a judicial review of her case (whatever it is about) in Scotland around May & June.

    Have a look at the Wikipedia article “LGBT rights in Zambia”. There you will read, “Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for both males and females in Zambia”, although later in the article you find ” … few IF ANY prosecutions for homosexuality have taken place … ”

    Certainly, nationals from other countries have come to the UK, discovered to their amazement that they are homosexuals, lesbians, or whatever and then applied for asylum, egged on by our various support organisations. It would not surprise me if there are a few Zambians trying it on, saying that their case is a one of LGBT.

  4. Raibert, Glasgow.

    Matilda Chanda and her other asylum seekers may wish to claim Glasgow as their adopted city but the people of Glasgow and Scotland do not wish to adopt Matilda Chanda and her other asylum seekers.

    We wish and hope that the whole bunch of freeloading seekers and refugees would get out of the UK and get back to their own countries, cities, towns and villages.

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