Settling in Rugby From Nairobi, and Coping With the Snow

For the Crossing Borders project, the group were encouraged to bring in their own objects from home that represented their migration stories or aspects of their identity. This object made from local marble and showing place names and maps was donated to Market Hall Museum in Warwick.
Image courtesy of Heritage & Culture Warwickshire
Oral history of Jaya, for Crossing Borders project


B: My name’s Jaya [background conversation] and I come from Africa and I settled down here. Came in ’73.

I: Whereabouts in Africa?

B: Africa it’s Nairobi. I come from there. About…I was 10 years old. Came with family, with brothers, sisters, mum, dad, the whole of my family together. And we came to…went in Bolton. Lived there a couple of weeks and then came back to Rugby with my uncle and them lot. Then we settled down in Rugby.

I: What did you think of England when you first came?

B: Oh, when we came first it was so bad, it was snow, so much. I never thought you can get that much snow. It was nice. Like it was something different for us. We don’t get snow in Africa. We get rain and cold and everything but not just snow. So it was really good when we came. And we’d just moved here. Worked. Went to school and we got married and settled down. I went to India couple of times…and my husband’s from India [couple of words are not clear] got kids, grandkids so I’m happy now so it’s all nice and settled.

I: Was there much difference between the school in Africa and the school here?

B:It’s lot different, yeh, lot of difference in African school and up here. In Africa, it’s alright I can go in the morning, finish it off at 12 and down here you go 9 o’clock and finish at half past 3 so it’s a little bit different. It’s not that much different.

I: Were you happy at school?

B: Well…yes and no [laughs] didn’t like the school at beginning, when I came down here didn’t like that much because I have to go early in the morning and sometimes it’s snowing and raining. You have to wake up and get the bus and then go to school. Then we got used to. Then it was fine. Ya, then, you get used to. When you come you don’t get used to straight, you know, it takes time. It did took time…about 7-8 months. Then it’s all nice and smooth so we’re happy now.

I: And you didn’t want to go back to Africa or…

B:No, I’ve been once to see where I was born and where we used to live and that. I can remember little bit but not too much, ’cause I was little when we come in here. So I’d love to go back. In the future I might go back for the holiday.

I: Right.

B: But now we’re settled down here with the kids and grandkids So, that’s my family up here so I’m happy. Don’t want to move to anywhere else now. Thank you.

I: That’s lovely, thank you.

Crossing Borders was an arts project made possible by funding from the West Midlands Museum Development Small Grant Scheme 2017. Find out more about the project here.

More from Rugby