So I have a new name,
Refugee
Strange that a name should take away from me
My past, my personality and hope.
Strange refuge this.
So many seem to share this name, refugee,
Yet we share so many differences.
I find no comfort in my new name.
I long to share my past, restore my pride,
To show I too, in time, will offer more than I have borrowed.
For now the comfort that I seek
Resides in the old yet new name.
I would choose
Friend.
(‘Refugee’ by Ruvimbo Bungwe [2004:26]).

Bungwe’s poem, which captures the retrospective, current and prospective identity and experiences of a refugee child, is central to the focus of this paper. It intimates at the dehumanisation and obfuscation that he endures by virtue of his refugee status that has stripped him of his uniqueness, hope and pride. A subject of other’s identificatory labels, he would prefer being called ‘Friend’ – an identity marker that translates into a horizontal, reciprocal relationship based on trust, acceptance and respect.

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