We Need New Stories

This episode contains references to racial violence.

In partnership with Nottingham City Libraries and funded by the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, “We Need New Stories” is an intergenerational oral history project that runs alongside our new touring production of ‘We Need New Names’ by Mufaro Makubika, based on the book by NoViolet Bulawayo.

“We Need New Stories” saw us work with young people of African heritage in the Nottingham area from Autumn 2022 onwards. After undertaking training in oral history, photography, film-making and audio skills, the young people interviewed first-generation Zimbabwean migrants in Nottingham, using their new skills to gather the interviewees’ personal stories of migration. Professional playwright Zodwa Nyoni then dramatised these interviews into a series of audio plays. The audio plays are now available for free online.

Young people received first-hand experience of working in a creative environment and took portrait photographs of the interviewees under the guidance of a professional photographer. They shadowed professional directors, actors and sound designers during the recording process of the interviews and the audio dramas created from them. As well as being released online, the final audio dramas will be showcased in a pop-up touring exhibition that accompanies the tour of WE NEED NEW NAMES, along with a range of photography, and personal ephemera from the people that were interviewed.

The recorded interviews and accompanying material will be stored in Nottingham City Libraries archive so that future generations can access them; and will be made available online via Fifth Word’s and Nottingham Libraries websites. The project will help share personal migrant experiences and will celebrate the integral contribution of people from the African diaspora to Nottingham’s social heritage.

Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford 

Ep9. Nicolle’s Story: LOVING PEOPLE FROM A DISTANCE by Zodwa Nyoni
Read by: Chiedza Rwodzi & Matthew Biddulph

What is We Need New Stories?

We Need New Stories is a series of 9 short new audio stories inspired by oral history interviews of Zimbabwean-born residents living in Nottingham.

Everyone featured in the oral histories were interviewed on camera in October 2022 by young people from the African diaspora. The resulting stories have been dramatised by playwright Zodwa Nyoni and recorded by actors.

You can view the original oral history interviews on each of the episode pages on Fifth Word's Website and in person at Nottingham Local Studies Library. The series also contains a bonus episode featuring an interview between playwright Zodwa Nyoni and director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour about the making of these audio stories.

All episodes are available for free on major listening platforms. Some stories contain sensitive subject matter including references to violence and racism.

This project has been supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, Nottingham Playhouse and The Space.

Welcome to Fifth Word's
We Need New Stories.

Episode nine.

Nicolle's Story.

Loving People from a
Distance written by Zodwa

Nyoni and directed by
Anastasia Osei-Kuffour.

This episode contains
references to racial violence.


Now we are in the run up
to a local election, and

over this time you are
going to hear loads of

claims from counselors on
what is best for your city.

But I would like you to
take some time to think

about who holds the values
that best represent you.

It's not just about what
they say they can offer you.

It's about whether
they're the right person

to speak on your behalf.

Let me introduce myself.

I am Nicole.

I left Zimbabwe in 2002
and moved to Nottingham

to join my mother.

This city is important to
me because it helped me heal

heartbreaks that I carried
Migration taught me to

love people from a distance
to avoid getting hurt.

Feelings were excess luggage
I couldn't carry with me

when leaving a hometown.

I arrived as a young
girl to a foreign country

that was emaciated.

My mother on 12 hour shifts,
and made me question if a

better life was worth her own.

In school, I was othered
for an African culture

that once felt like home.

I was in limbo not knowing
how to be here, or if I could

go back to a father I missed.

Dearly, but through
my education, I joined

societies of international
and local people.

Every person made me
understand how we lived

alongside each other.

Cacophony of hate
turned to community.

Symphonies of Unity Act sing.

Along with I stepped
forward believing leaders

could look like me.

My voice became a placard
in a protest, grabbing

everyone's attention.

My campaign message was Love
understanding and equality.

Your votes stood behind me,
and together we pride open

history books, and wrote my
name from immigrant to the

first black counselor of HNO
Ashfield District Council.

It was never easy, but
worth the perseverance.

I was healed by
every vote you cast.

It told me that you saw
me, you trusted me, and I

was part of your community.

So when I say who people are
matters, it's because the

resilience I carry will always
keep me fighting for you.

Fighting for you
is fighting for me.

We are more than
campaign issue.

We are someone's
mother, father, sister,

brother, and child.

So if you believe that we
should always take care of

each other, cast your vote
tomorrow and make me your

next mayor of Nottingham.

And then the jingle will
play out and there will

be a picture of me with
the words Mayor in bold.

That's quite an advert.

Got a plan ahead.

I'm a go big kind
of counselor.

I see the vision.

I don't just see it.

I believe it.

This is why I'm canvassing
in your neighborhood.

We have to build
the vision together.

Well, if you are who you
say you are, you will

definitely have my votes
right to the top job.

Thank you for your time today.

Thank you for listening.

If you enjoyed this episode,
please share with others.

All episodes in this series
are available on major

listening platforms and
on fifth word's website.