Caraweelo, both fists raised in defiance, body contorted in mockery and eyes wide open with belligerence, burst into this world with a single, loud, blood-curling scream. Her kin, upon seeing the jewel between her legs, drew back with disgust and disappointment, all the while murmuring verses of protection.

A few old men, scared out of their wits and way past their due date, lay comatose on the scorching ground, recovering from the chilling scream. God help their kin from this abomination, this vile curse. What a waste of space, of humanity. She was and would never be of use to their kin. Surely, the drought and this creature were Satan’s antics, his offspring. Caraweelo, who could read their minds, spread her legs wide, reached for her jewel and rained on the land. She knew she had a long journey ahead of her, a destiny to fulfill. She looked into the tired eyes of her mother, laughed and reached for sustenance.

Caraweelo was blessed with the gift of insight, reflection and observation. She watched quietly, hidden in the safe zone in her mind. Women, in colorful robes, flirted back and forth, selling their dreams. Their men, fat and belching, the leeches, sat on mats chatting and chilling. They were discussing important matters, Caraweelo was told, and should not be disturbed. But Caraweelo knew better. She chewed her lips, drawing blood. She shuddered with resentment. They were fools in skirts, cowards who never ventured into war. Instead, they sat, plotted and planned the down-fall of an unseen rival. After dark, they would jump on their bone-weary wives and gallop into the sunset, alone.

When Caraweelo was six, her grandfather came for her one dark night and took her worth away. As she lay, bleeding and petrified, he proved why blood was thicker than water. You see, charity starts at home. Yes, it is true that nobody has the power to hurt you as your kin. It did not matter that she was still in stitches, recovering from mutilation, in strict observation of culture and tradition. She was their rubbish bin, their semen cup. That was all she was good for and would ever be good for. Caraweelo’s mother told her to bite her tongue, to sit on her lips and to conform. A good girl should not be seen, should not be heard and should aim to please. Hush child. This is your destiny, your role in life. Caraweelo disagreed silently. Her day would come one day.

When Caraweelo was thirteen, her grandfather gave her to his close friend…his distant cousin. He had trained her well and knew that she would bring prestige to her family. She watched from afar as the two old men sat, whispering and giving her furtive glances. Her 50-something year old husband looked at her, smacking his wrinkled lips. With the exchange of one camel and two cows, Caraweelo moved into the camp of her kin, her grandfather. That night, Caraweelo tasted bondage, tasted fear and blood. She had flashbacks of her violent initiation, her rape, into her kin…her clan. Her 13-year old body curled into itself, begging for mercy. He was oblivion to her cries, heaving and gasping. Shush. You’re a woman amidst millions of other women with similar faiths and destinies. You’re nothing. You don’t count. You don’t belong to any clan. Caraweelo bit down, swallowing her screams, cursing and vehemently disagreeing.

Caraweelo’s husband came into some wealth and moved her to Mogadishu. She was a young mother and still proud. She was still standing…..still strong. War broke out and they had to flee their beloved country. Finland was open, welcoming….or so she thought. Her old husband found the new country tough and turned to bitterness.

As he grew old, diminishing, Caraweelo grew into a beautiful black swan. She learned the new language, the new culture and embraced the new world she’d stepped into. Hush woman. Stick to your four walls and raise your children. Enough of your madness. Shut up, Caraweelo yells. You don’t own me anymore. Shush woman. You’ll go to hell for disobeying God. Shut up, she yells back. Since when did you abide by God’s rules? Hush infidel. Her husband – a serial wife beating rapist – became a sheikh during the day. When religious blackmail failed, her husband resorted to karate chops and kicks. When the next karate chop came, her husband suddenly found himself on the floor of their flat, overpowered by emancipation and enlightenment.

Caraweelo’s kin, her clan came to reconcile the two. This was the day she had lived for all her life. They came, all men. Of course they were all men. The cannibalistic clan is an exclusive club for goat-fuckers, father-fuckers, mother-fuckers and daughter-fuckers. Caraweelo let it rip. She let the shit hit the fan. Hush woman. Blood is thicker than blood. You’re mistreating your grandfather….your next kin of blood. He has sole ownership over your body. Shut up, Caraweelo yells. Where were you when my kin was ripping me apart? Raping my innocence? Shush woman. He has rights over you, rights over your children. Please, she says and rolls her eyes. I am married to the Finnish government. It pays my bills, puts a warm roof over my head, educates my children and takes care of my worries. Hush woman. Your kin, your clan are your blood and marrow. Please, she yells back. I was born into wilderness. I never belonged. I was never counted for.

Caraweelo, after getting rid of her nightmare, ended up with her son. A tyrant like his father.  When he fully slipped into his father’s shoes, she cut the umbilical cord and threw him out. She devoted her time, energy and love to raising queens, to raising warriors, to her daughters. She watches other women silently, with keen observation. She observes the clannish women. They look smart and educated on the exterior, but are rotten to their clan core. They parrot talk about emancipation, empowerment, nationalism, religion and equality during the day time and turn into clan cannibals when the sun sets. They conspire to congregate in dingy cafes, smelly alleys, forsaken homes and treacherous associations with their kin, their men, plotting and planning.

Caraweelo knows these women. After all, they are her cousins, her mother, her aunts, her grandmothers and her offspring. They are her and she is them. These are women who are more loyal to their clan than to their womanhood. Hush woman. Don’t hush me monster. You are repugnant….a traitor to womanhood……a traitor to Somalia. Instead of getting ahead based on qualifications, you resort to writing lists with your moronic kin. After all I went through, for you and for all the other women, this is what you do, she admonishes. I sold charcoal, my body and paid everything I had in my possession so that you could get to safety. Hush, I am Caraweelo. Let me speak. Let me put things into perspective for you.

You came to the Diaspora on the pretext of running from the clan militia, your cousins. What do you do upon reaching safety? You churn out lists, hate lists, of those you perceive to be better than you. Because it irks you that others are progressing, are making an honest living and getting ahead in life, you obsess over your lists. It irks you that you never managed to annihilate them from the face of the earth. You are a traitor, conspiring with men, your kin, your clan that raped you, molested you and your children. You are supporting a structure that enslaves you, dehumanizes you, denies you existence and that is uncivilized. Don’t you ever shush me! You never mattered to them and even as you conspire with them, they still despise you. Don’t you see my sister, my daughter, as long as you have a jewel between your legs, you’ll never matter to them.

Caraweelo speaks the truth. It hurts and is unpleasant. The cannibalistic clan mentality is deeply ingrained in these women. Every Friday or Saturday evening, they appear adorned in expensive robes and gold. They show up for their clans in the numerous weddings taking place almost every week. Yes, blood is thicker than water. Some of them have never worked a day in this country, can never write nor read any language. It is not uncommon to run into them at the health centers with back-aches, stomach-aches and other psychosomatic ailments. They’ll do anything to get out of going to school, work or reality. To becoming productive citizens. However, on that evening when their clan multiples, they’ll speak in languages. Hallelujah! When the lies start about her clan….how they rule the seas..even when they’ve never seen what it looks like and all of that shit….she’ll jump into the air, flick backwards, somersaulting all over the place and rolling on the carpet. Hallelujah! A miracle, she’s cured of her back-ache, her debilitating sickness. What a pity that the employment office staff, or the social worker, aren’t there to see this miracle.

Hush little girls. Give it up. Burn those lists. Desist with your malicious efforts. Your opponents still continue to exist despite your lists. Your hosts, although initially puzzled and supportive, now can see through your deception. No, she yelps, uncertainty in her eyes. I am my clan and they love me. Shush girl. That’s the devil talking in you, Caraweelo says. Desist with your poison. The CCC is not for you. It never was and it never will be. Cannibals eat each others. They’ll turn on you when all else has been eaten. Stop sponsoring your terrorist cousins. Cut their funding and put an end to their pillaging of Somalia. Somalia is one and will always be one. Put your clan flag away and unite under womanhood.

Shush little girl. You belong with the women folk, we are your womanhood, your sisterhood. You belong with me, with us. I will cure you of your disease, you’re dear to me, you’re my blood and marrow, Caraweelo says. Yes, Caraweelo, we hear you. Yes mama Caraweelo…..my queen…I hear and obey you. Yes, they are diseased and if they don’t want a cure, then they should leave. We turn, Caraweelo at the helm, both fists in the air and we scream in unison, shattering windows…eardrums. If you won’t join us, then go on and leave. You don’t belong in civilization. You are not worthy of Caraweelo. Go back to where you come from and indulge your sickness there. You’re not worthy of womanhood…of freedom. Your cage is open…yet you are still in bondage.

* Some background information on Queen Caraweelo (http://www.jaakoole.com/2010/02/queen-caraweelo/)

(What I will tell my daughter)

Someday you will be told that a woman’s gaze must never stretch as far as a man’s.

That his should soar above the seventh heaven -like shooting stars between planets- to find himself on Saturn’s rings but yours- yours must never exceed the ceiling of your house because you were made different.

Your place- lies in the cleanliness of kitchen shelves the dust between radiator and wall the stains on both carpet and floor- because you are a woman… nothing more.

You see, They might say That a woman’s gaze should never stretch as far as a man’s. No, yours must stretch further.

Because you are a woman, Nothing less.

By Farah Gabdon

There is an angry mob ready to lynch. They’re gathering force, leaping over barriers, ululating, and blindly bulldozing civility in their wake. The drummers, hunched over the “SOS” drum, thump out an angry condescending rhythm, rivers of sweat and recriminations running down their livid face. The steady drumming picks up pace, urging the mob to free themselves from inhibitions, to discard any rules of engagement, gradually ignites the mob in an incensed dance. The dance of hurt feelings, of good attentions, manifested in chest beating, raised fists, and swathed in the bright colors of morality, swells to a frenzy, and abruptly ends in an ecstatic, feverish, orgasmic crescendo. The mob, oiled and utterly convinced of their righteousness, is ready. Suddenly, it turns in unison, their gaze locking on two young women tending to their media business. Lurching, heaving, the mob manages to corner the two petrified young women, strips them naked of their humanity and drags them on the street for an all-night mob mania. There’s nothing like a mob action, especially when it is out to save the black woman, or more specifically in this case, her black ass.

Sorry guys, please give me a minute while I rein in my over-active imagination. Let me get a steaming mug of chamomile tea to sooth my frayed nerves before continuing this writing. What a beautiful Sunday morning it is. Yes sire. We finally have snow, finally.

Hmmm, where was I. Right, I remember now. There is a mob, ready for lynching and all because of our juicy, fat, and black as the night asses. They’re on a “Save the Clitless Clique” campaign and my endangered ass is on the line here. We’re talking about the ass population of millions of women. I should be happy right. I should be honored. I should be flattered. I should be grateful for being the victim. I should be quiet, ashamed of what has been done to me. But I am not. Instead, I am confused, bewildered.

This mob is offended on my behalf because of an article and photos on FGM published by Helsinki Sanomat, the biggest media outlet in Finland, over a week ago. The anger is not wholly targeted at the media outlet as such, but at two specific women, namely Anu Nouisianen and Meeri Koutaniemi, who both provided the narrative. The writing and the photos were, I must say, fantastic. The photos, though shocking and terrifying, appealed to my humanity. FGM is not beautiful. It is gruesome, chillingly terrifying and deadly. In the opinion section, some men were frothing at the mouth while loudly bleating about male circumcision. I beg now. Men, glance down, look at your little brother in your pants, sit back comfortably and imagine the whole tip of your penises, without anesthesia, being slowly, excruciatingly, sliced away. That is mutilation and not circumcision. You must be out of your testosterone-laden mind to even have the audacity to insist that mutilation is the same as male circumcision.

Why are some people reacting so strongly to the HS piece, you ask? Beats me too, but I’ll hazard a guess based on my observations. You see, Anu and Meeri were invited and given access to one of the remote Masai villages in Kenya, where preparations were underway for an upcoming FGM procedure. Their visit eventually culminated in the inhumane mutilation of two under-aged Masai girls. Mind you, these villages are not strange to Meeri because of her self-funded, decade-long anti-FGM work. That is a side dish and not to be mixed with the main course. Anyway, the discussions’ escalated from insidious insinuations to downright accusations of racism, colonialism, exploitation, opportunism, incompetence and arrogance etc. See any projections here? As a result, a lot of negative energy was and continues to be invested in shifting the focus from this abhorrent practice, in diluting its importance and in silencing others.

There is no doubt that some of the ethical concerns raised about the piece are valid. Yes, exploitation is wrong. Yes, racism is wrong. Yes, children have rights and their privacy should be protected. Yes, we should not make a living out of the misery of others. These are rules of engagement that should apply to ALL, regardless of the context, color and creed. But is it fair, just, and ethical to accuse Anu and Meeri of these things? Why is there a need to question their intentions and in this very disrespectful manner? Why take things so personally?

This discussion minefield is shrouded in double standards. The loaded language of politics, of disempowerment, of patronization involved here is disturbing. If we are going to bring up the issue of exploitation, of making a living out of the misery of others, how about the migrants here? How about tackling the million dollar integration business that we have going on here? How about broaching the disempowerment of the black migrant communities by the integration business people? How about questioning the over-representation of the indigenous Finns in the integration and development focused NGOs? How about their exclusive right to leadership and management positions in these initiatives? How about their over-representation in development projects? How about questioning this white privilege? We have highly qualified and competent people that could be doing these jobs. But no, we have to relegate them to their position, their dirty territory, to deal with their kind. As if that is all they are capable of! The context of exploitation and by whom, is purely subjective and steeped in self-interest.

The black woman’s body, the bodies of her children, have been divided up for exploitation. We have experts on her madness, on her anger, on her ugliness, on her religious fanaticism, her inability to care for her children. We have experts on her sexuality, experts on her lack of sexuality, experts on her hyper-sexuality, experts on her womanhood, on her femininity. She needs saving from herself, from her husband, her son. Never mind about engaging her as an equal. Hell, fuck that intersectionality shit, right? Continue to speak over her and for her in your researches, in your projects, in your documentaries and in your writings. After all, you’re the expert, right? And if she continues to insist on speaking for herself, insists on breaking out of her compartment, label her as unreasonable, as lazy, as a mindless child producing factory, and if all fails, label her as nut case and put her on your blacklist. After all, she is half a woman, right? She is not the whole woman that you are, right? Isn’t that exploitation, modern day slavery, colonialism, racism, opportunism? If that isn’t exploitation, then what is?  How about tackling that? Why the selectivity? Is it because Meeri mentioned the P and the C word? Could that be it? She has a campaign and a project in the pipeline. What? How dare she encroach on a stamped body, the black woman’s body, on a stacked territory, whether here or elsewhere? As if you have sole ownership of the black woman and her children! How about not speaking for me at all? How about that?

I, as an FGM survivor, don’t see the burning need in whipping this horse to kingdom come. It is distasteful when some people choose to be selective in their lynching. I am not the victim portrayed in these discussions nor will I ever be. I am a survivor, a fighter. Walk half a mile in my shoes, if they fit and maybe, just maybe, you might catch a glimpse of the world from my vintage point. I have survived this long and will continue to do so long after this debate is over. I dream, yearn and pray for the day when this level of organized interest, this level of passion, this level of energy and this level of commitment is dedicated to the fight against racism, is dedicated to the fight for equity, for equal representation of migrants in decision-making structures, institutions and matters that affect their well-being in Finland. How about that?

” The future of the Somali race is to my mind one of the most interesting and difficult of the problems presented by East Africa. For the present, I advise that we leave them alone, or at least avoid as far as possible the task of attacking them in their own territory. They are naturally isolated, and, if our officers will only avoid getting killed, can do little harm by quarrelling with one another in Jubaland. Our real task at present is rather to see that they do not encroach to the south, and to prevent them from raiding the Tana River and the Lamu Archipelago. But we can hardly avoid in the future the further task of making a permanent settlement in Jubaland, and the delimitation of the Abyssinian (meaning stop Somali Region expansion) frontier may perhaps precipitate that settlement.

It is certainly to be desired that we should utilise the Somalis. There can be no doubt that they are the most intelligent race in the Protectorate, though it may be urged with some justice that they are also proud, treacherous, fanatical, and vindictive. Too much stress, I think, is often laid on these bad qualities, and it is certain that the average Englishman has little sympathy for the Somali. He tolerates a black man who admits his inferiority, and even those who show a good fight and give in ; but he cannot tolerate dark colour combined with an intelligence in any way equal to his own. This is the secret of the almost universal dislike of the Babu, and it reappears in the unpopularity of the Somali among East African officials.

The Somali are not willing to agree to the simple plan of having a fair fight and then shaking hands when defeated, but constantly indicate that they think themselves our equals or superiors, and not unfrequently prove it. Whenever it is worth our while to occupy Jubaland, and let them see a few hundred white men instead of half-a-dozen officials, which is literally all that they know of us at present, I anticipate that we shall not have much difficulty in getting on with them. The attractions of civilisation are so great for them, and our superiority in this respect so incontestable, that there can hardly be any doubt as to the result. What will happen in the wider limits of Somaliland, north of the Juba, it is hard to predict, but the area to the south is sufficiently small to offer an easy field for the extension of European influence when it is commercially and financially worthwhile. But meanwhile I think we had better let the Somalis alone, and avoid these conflicts between a lion and a swallow.”

The East Africa Protectorate

by Eliot, Charles Eliot

1905

What if you had to flee your home country? Where would you go? How would you want to be treated? What would you do if you were mistreated and you had nowhere else to go? Put yourself for a minute in the shoes of these refugees fleeing.

Credit: This is an Amnesty International’s campaign for the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and at its borders.

Saavuin tähän maahan pakolaisena vuonna 1990, keskelle lamaa, aikana jolloin ulkomaalaiset olivat harvassa. Somalishokki toteutui yli yön. Tavan takaa kuulin rasistisia heittoja, heräsin ”perkele”-sointuihin, join teeni ”mutakuonona” ja tanssin ”vitun neekeri”-biisien tahtiin. Ihmiset pysähtyivät kadulla tuijottamaan, lapset kiljahtelivat ”kato äiti neekeri”. Isoäidit hyökkäsivät kimppuuni uimahallin suihkussa yrittäen pestä pois väriäni. Muutaman tuoppin rohkaisemina toiset tulivat koskettelamaan hiuksiani ja tekemään sopimattomia ehdotuksia. Muutuin tuntevasta, unelmoivasta ja oikeudellisesta yksilöstä alhaiseksi ali-ihmiseksi: mutakuonoksi, nekruksi, huoraksi ja sosiaalipummiksi.

Hyvinä päivinä jos satuin tarvitsemaan liikunta, sain sen maanantaista perjantaihin skinien jahdatessa minua aamuaikaan 07:30 matkallani suomenkielen tunneille. Yhdessä yössä minusta, juoksunvihaajasta, tuli kohtuullisen lahjakas pitkänmatkan juoksija. Mitä nuo skinit tekivät tuolla bussiasemalla tuohon aamuvarhaiseen aikaan? Siellä oli nuoria poikia ja pari ikääntyneempää jäärää, jotka olivat selvittäneet kulkureittimme – muodostaneet hyökkäysjoukkonsa ja päättäneet että meidän piti lähteä. Päästäksemme kielikeskukseen, meidän tuli kulkea erään varjoisan tunnelin kautta, ohittaa taksiasema ja kävellä pari korttelia keskukseen.

Skinit kokoontuivat tunneliin, hyökkäsivät kimppuumme, jakelivat iskuja kuin konekiväärin suusta ja lähtivät juosten peräämme. Samalla minut tutustutettiin sukupuoliseen tasa-arvoon; heidän oikeuttaan jaettiin niin naisille kuin miehillekin. Jouduin singahtamaan hullun lailla kohti tunnelin päätä, päivänvaloon, ihmiskunnan silmien alle, jotka seisoivat rennosti ihmettelemässä, naureskelemassa taksiasemalla. Ja sitten vain juostiin tasaisesti jolkottaen kohti kielikeskusta.
Kun vihdoin yksi meistä rohkaistui kutsumaan poliiseja apuun, meitä neuvottiin jatkamaan juoksua, sehän on kuulemma meillä afrikkalaisilla verissä? Silleenhän me Suomeenkin oltiin tultu? Väsyneinä jahdatuksi tulemiseen, pahoinpitelyyn ja nimittelyyn käännyin poliisin puoleen ja tein skineistä ilmoituksen. Minua kehoitettiin juoksemaan ja välttämään jahdatuksi tulemista. Lopulta poliisi suostui aamuisin saattamaan meitä kielikeskukseen. Siirryimme skinien jahdin painajaisesta poliisin seurannan alaisuuteen. Sekään ei ollut helppoa, sillä Afrikassa, jätetyssä kotimaassa poliisiviranomainen tarkoitti monasti ongelmia ja kidutusta. Viimeisenä päivänä, ilmeisesti jäähyväistervehdyksenä, poliisiauto ajoi lähellemme ja poliisi huikkasi minulle ”juokse, nekru, juokse”.
Nyt, kaksikymmentäkolme vuotta myöhemmin, rasistit edelleen ajavat takaa ja hakkaavat viattomia ihmisiä. Vastikään eräs kahden lapsen somaliäiti istui yksin, silmät päästään itkeneenä Pasilan poliisiasemalla. Hän oli samaisena aamuna matkustanut Malmilta iloisena suomalaisille lapsilleen jutellen, toiveikkaana päivää odottaen. Liukuportaissa heidään takanaan seissyt henkilö työnsi voimalla kolmevuotiaan pois edestään ja asettui äidin eteen. Tämä kysyi miksi hän oli tuuppinut pientä lasta. Vaaleatukkainen nainen tuijotti takaisin, hihitti ja läimäytti kuusivuotista kasvoihin halkaisten lapsen huulen ja nenä alkoi vuotamaan verta. Lasten äiti meni shokkiin yllättävästä väkivallasta ja huusi sivustakatsojia ottamaan juoksevaa naista kiinni. HE VAIN SEISOIVAT JA KATSOIVAT, STADIONIN YLEISÖN LAILLA. Äiti ei voinut lähteä pahoinpitelijän perään jättäen
lapsiaan liukuportaisiin.
Poliisin saapuessa, silminnäkijät hupenivat, kieltäytyivät kertomasta näkemäänsä vastuullisina kansalaisina. Äiti vetosi katsojiin, heidän oikeudentuntoonsa ja inhimillisyyteen, mutta turhaan. Nyt oikeutta ei saa, lapset ovat psyykkisesti traumatisoituneita ja äiti on voimattomuuden, vihan ja inhon tunteiden murtama. Miksi suomalaiset tekevät näin ? Miksi he päättivät olla auttamatta nähdessään tämän julman teon? Se oli lapsi, LAPSI! Olisin ehkä ymmärtänyt teon jos kohteena olisi ollut aikuinen, mutta puolustuskyvyttömän lapsen kimppuun hyökkääminen on puhdasta ilkeyttä.
Pyydän. Jos olit Pasilassa tuona päivänä ja näit tämän, mene poliisin puheilla ja tee velvollisuutesi jotta tämä mielenhäiriöinen hyökkääjä saadaan oikeuden eteen. Seuraavan hyökkäyksen kohde voi olla sinun lapsesi.

Ajat ovat muuttuneet, enimmäksen parempaan suuntaan. Rasismin kasvot ovat vaihtaneet värejään maidonvalkoisesta eri keltaisiin, punaisiin, ruskeisiin ja joskus vihreisiin säyvyihin. Rasismi ei enää ole mikään suomalaisten oikeus, vaan sitä harrastavat myös maahanmuuttajat keskuudessaan.Somaleja voi aina vetää turpaan vaikka ihan tonttupisteiden ja arvostuksen vuoksi. Turhautuneena maahanmuuttajana voit aina kävellä suomalaisen luokse ja kertoa miten halveksit noita tyhmiä somaleja ja jäädä odottamaan kutsua kahville seuraavana päivänä. Tulet pettymään sillä oma hetkesi tulee minä päivänä hyvänsä. Jos näin kuitenkin toimit, muista että nykyhetken suhteellinen rauha ansaittiin, kun me aikanaan juoksimme, otimme turpaan ja tasoitimme tiesi.

Miksi revin auki vanhoja haavoja, vaikka ajat ovat muuttuneet parempaan? Koska olen väsynyt kuulemaan miten rasistisia suomalaiset ovat. Että me emme voi integroitua yhteiskuntaan värimme, uskontomme tai ulttuurimme takia. Että suomalaiset vaativat meitä luopumaan kulttuuristamme ja uskonnostamme. Jos näin olisi, miksi lapsemme ovat opiskelemassa kieltä ja uskontoa kouluissa? Missä muualla maailmassa valtio tarjoaa parasta oppia ja koulutusta – loputtomia mahdollisuuksia?
En kiellä Suomen rasismiongelmaa. Kyseessä on maailmanlaajuisesta, niin Somaliassa kuin maahanmuuttajien joukossa kytevästä ilmiöstä. Esimerkkeinä populististen puolueiden listoille asettuvat siirtolaiset – juuri ne jotka häikäisevät ämpärikaupalla valuvilla alentavilla lausahduksillaan, joiden jälkeen olosi on paljon varsinaisten rasistien käsittelyn jälkeistä pahempi. Jumala varjelkoon törmäämästä heihin sairaaloissa, virastoissa tai edes kaduilla.
En kuitenkaan millään pysty yleistämään ongelmaa laajempaan väestöön. Enemmistö suomalaisista, hiljaisina ja taustalla, ovat maltillisa, rauhaa rakastavia ja sivistyneitä. Äänekkäät ja näkyvät rasistit ovat pieni vähemmistö tässä maassa. Mistä heidät tunnistaa? Yhteisenä tunnusmerkkinä heillä on viha. Se kohdistuu ihmisiin, jotka pärjäävät, ovat töissä, omistavat yrityksiä, nostavat korkeaa palkkaa, koulutettuihin, korkeaan elintasoon, kielitaitoisiin kansalaisiin. He ovat helposti manipuloitavissa ja purkavat pahan olonsa lähimpänä oleviin ihmsiin, jotka kokevat aiheuttaneen heidän tilansa. Yleensä elävät kieltäen kaiken ja uskovat utopiaan, että eräänä päivänä he heräävät harppua soittavien enkelien kuoroon värittömään Suomeen.
Jos kaikki suomalaiset olisivat rasisteja, kuten jotkut väittävät – elämä olisi helvettiä. Mieti asia hetken, ja vielä lisää, hitaasti.

Tartu tämän maan tarjoamiin mahdollisuuksiin, opi kieli, kouluttaudu, tee lujasti töitä ja tottele lakeja, noudata normeja. Jos et siitä huolimatta tunne itsesi tervetulleeksi, älä huolehdi – maailmassa on monia maita, jotka hamuavat pätevää ja koulutettua työväkeä. Suomesta on nopeasti tulossa maa, joka tunnetaan korkeatasoisesta koulutuksesta ja vinhasta aivoviennistä. Muista kuitenkin palata. Pakoon juokseminen on harvoin se ainoa ja paras ratkaisu. Usko minua, puhun kokemuksesta.
Meidän on yhteistuumin ryhdyttävä suvaitsevan enemmistön voimaannuttamiseen, löydettävä yhteisiä tavoitteita ja tehtävä töitä kaiken kattavan suomalaisuuden eteen. Uskon tämän olevan maamme, satoi tai paistoi, ja olemme täällä myös myrskyn laannuttua. Rakastan Suomea ja olla somali-suomalainen. Tämä on maani, kotini, paikka johon olen haudannut äitini ja johon olen synnyttänyt lapseni. Lakatkaa pahoittelemasta, valittamasta, käärikäämme hihat etsimään ratkaisuja ja rakentamaan siltoja.

Käännös Alexander Holthoer

I was feeling depressed by the outcome of the political wrangling between the Somali president and his PM. I hope the new PM will be selected in a transparent manner and will be qualified to do the job. For how long must we put up with these constant changes in leadership?

To uplift my spirits, I decided to dig up my old archives and came upon this gem. This is an old classic song that was composed by Abdulkadir Hersi Yamyam (May he rest in peace). One of the things that Said Barre will be missed for was his nationalism which he strove to inculcate in the masses through songs, poetry and drama. I just adore this song and the uplifting words. How the mighty have fallen: from a proud nation to one of scattered beggars. Nevertheless, I am still optimistic and pray for a peaceful Somalia. Somalia, lifted up and held by women, will one day get back on its feet. 

I share names with equality
A mortal I do not allow
That he surpass me
And allusive words and hints
I confer not on anyone as gifts
I am Somali

Though impoverished I am
Yet my hardships I endure
And my palms I do not extend
A man with whom I am friends
With my enemy I do not rival
I am Somali

I am in a quest for peace
And from enmity I am terrified
But [from the battlefield] I flee not
And the man who brings wounds
From his hands I await not [I launch assault]
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

To whom my ways do not appeal
As he wishes I do not comply with
Like some parts of the world
Coercion I do not accept
Nor do I carry any man’s shoes
I am Somali

O’ you who is wealthier than I
Your offerings for name’s sake
Know that I expect them not
Say not, too, persuade the ignorant
For I have not a conscious that sleeps
I am Somali

Neither man’s stroking of my head
Nor his lace on my legs [duplicity] do I accept
Persuasion I do not approve
As for secrets [about me] I say
A Saab [vessel] that hold no water
I am Somali

I am of a step with the wind
And on impulse I do not act
I am like fangs of poison [when provoked]
And at times, the bearer of good [when dealt with peace]
I am swathed in patience
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

I am like Saan [hide] split into two
That still bears the credentials
Some men once disintegrated me
Whilst I tended to my flocks
[But] the obligation of unity I [still] carry
I am Somali

(Source: this is a classic Somali song called Somali Baan Ahay. The English translation is attributable to Shafi Said at http://shafisaid.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/i-am-somali/)

 

I came to this country as a refugee in 1990, at the time of recession and when foreigners where a rarity. As a result, we had become a “Somali shock” overnight. It was common at the time to hear racial slurs, to wake up to the sounds of “perkele”, to drink tea to “mutakuono” and to dance to “vitun neekeri”. People would stop to gawk on the streets, kids yelling “look mommy, a nigger”. Grandmothers would ambush me in the swimming hall shower and scrub me down, hoping to wash the color off. Others, after a few pints, would come over to touch my hair and make inappropriate propositions. I went from being an individual, with aspirations, feelings and rights, to a degraded sub-human: a “mud face”, “nigger”, “whore”, and “social loafer”.

On the good days when I needed exercise, which was usually from Monday to Friday, I got that while being chased by skinheads, at 7:30 every morning on my way to Finnish lessons. I had gone, overnight, from hating running, to becoming a talented long distance runner.

What were these skinheads doing at the bus station at that ungodly hour? These were young boys and a few older diehards who’d mapped our movements, formed a vigilante mob and decided that we had to go. To get to the language center, we had to walk through a darkly-light tunnel, pass the taxi stand, then cross the road and walk a few blocks to the center. The skinheads would converge in the tunnel, set upon us, raining blows like a machine gun and then run after us. Those guys also introduced me to gender equality: justice was meted out to even the women. You had to make a mad dash for the exit of the tunnel, out to daylight, to humanity which just stood nonchalantly watching, laughing and from there onward it was smooth, languid running.

When one of us finally managed to call the police, we were told to keep on running, after all, it is in our African blood, isn’t it? Isn’t that how we got to Finland? Tired of being chased, harassed and physically attacked, I approached the police and reported the skinheads. I was told to run and to avoid being chased. The police eventually agreed to escort us every morning to the language center. We went from the nightmare of having skinheads on our heels to being trailed by one or two police cars. Not what one would hope for, especially coming from Africa, were the police spell trouble and torture. On the last day of being escorted and as a farewell gesture, one of the police men drove up closely, rolled down his window and told me “run, nigger, run”.

Twenty three years later, racists are still chasing and beating up on innocent people.

Recently, a Somali mother with two children under the age of six was left wailing, crying her eyes out and devastated at the Pasila station. She had come from Malmi that morning, cheerfully talking to her Finnish children and looking forward to the day. A person behind her on the escalator violently pushed her three-year old baby out of the way and stood in front of her. She asked the person, a blond woman, why she pushed the child. The woman looked back, snickered and smacked the six-year old girl on the face, smashing her lips and nose wide open. The mother, shocked by the brutal act and the amount of blood spilling from the face of her daughter, yelled for the bystanders to stop the running woman. THEY JUST STOOD AND WATCHED, LIKE SPECTATORS IN A STADIUM. The mother could not run after the woman and leave her kids on the escalator.

When the police came, all the witnesses were slowly dispersing. They refused to step up and be responsible citizens. The mother implored the spectators, tried to appeal to their decency and humanity, but to no avail. Now the case has not gone far, the children are psychologically traumatized and the mother wrecked with feelings of hopelessness, anger and deep hatred. Why do Finnish people do this? Why did they choose to be passive, watching such a heinous act? This is a child, a child! I could understand if it were an adult being attacked. But a defenseless CHILD: that is just plain callousness. Please, if you were at Pasila that day, please go to the police and do your bit. That deranged woman needs to be brought to justice. The next child she attacks could be YOURS.

Times have changed, mostly for the better. The face of racism has changed from milky white to differing hues of yellow, red, chocolate and sometimes green. Racism is no longer exclusive to the Finns. No, we also have migrants doing that. It is okay to bash the Somalis, if only to score brownie points and curry favors. If you’re a frustrated migrant, with low self-esteem and disgruntled disposition, just walk up to a Finn and tell them how you despise those nasty Somalis, sit back and expect to be invited for coffee the next day. You’ll be sorely disappointed for your turn will come too one day. But as you attempt to do this, don’t forgot that you’re here, enjoying relative peace, because we did the running, bit the bullet, endured the worst and paved the way for you.

Why am I opening up old wounds if times are better, as I claim? Because I am tired of hearing that the Finns are racists. That we cannot integrate into this society because we are of a different color, religion and culture. That Finns want us to give up our culture and religion. If that were the case, why are our children learning, free of charge, their mother-tongue and religion in schools? Where else in the world do you have such endless and highly sought after educational opportunities, all paid for by the state?

I’m not denying that racism isn’t a problem in this country. Racism is a global phenomenon that can also be found in Somalis as well as in other migrant communities. Take the example of migrants running on the tickets of populist parties here. I am talking about the ones who glare at you, huge bucket loads of condescension dripping off them and whose mistreatment is even worse than the actual racists. God forbid you should run into them in the hospitals, the government offices and even on the streets.

However, I have a problem with generalizing it to the wider population. The majority of the Finns, often silent and in the background are tolerant, peace-loving and civilized people.

The racists, although vocal and visible, are a small minority in this country. How do you recognize them? They have one thing in common: hatred. It is targeted at people who are doing well, who have jobs, businesses, high salaries, education, good living standards and who speak languages other than just Finnish. They’re easily manipulated and gullible because of their low educational level. And so they take it out on people that they perceive to have led to their misfortune. They tend to live in denial and have a utopian outlook on life: like waking up one day to the sound of angels singing in harmony, violins playing and finding a colorless Finland.

If all Finns were racists, like some claim, then life here would be hellish. Imagine that for a moment, imagine it again for a little while longer, and let it sink in slowly.

Take the opportunities available in this country, learn the language, get an education, work hard and abide by the national laws/norms. If, despite all that, you still feel unwelcome and sick of it all. Don’t despair, there are other countries looking for competent workers and who will gladly take you in. Finland is fast becoming a country known for training and exporting highly skilled labor. But remember to come back. Running away is not the best and only solution. I write from experience here.

We need to engage the tolerant majority constructively, unite forces with them, find common goals and work towards an inclusive Finland. I believe that this is our country, no matter what, and we will be here long after the storm has died down. I love Finland and I love being a Somali-Finn. This is my country, my home, my mother is buried here and my children were born here. Stop being apologetic, stop complaining, roll back your sleeves and join us in finding a solution and building bridges.

 

Meet the Somalis

The Open Society has published a serious of narratives on Somalis in Europe (below). Whereas other Somalis in Europe seem to have reached self-actualization, sadly the ones in Finland are still grappling with obtaining the basic necessities of life. Jamilah’s story resonated the most with me. I could see myself in her story, especially about the part where she started wearing hijab as a result of being discriminated against. When things get so miserable, she leaves Finland only to realizes that Finland is home. There is no going back. The other thing that caught my eye is the disparity in the level of integration. Somalis in Norway, the UK, Sweden and Denmark are doing better than the ones in Finland and Holland. 

Meet the Somalis is a collection of 14 illustrated stories depicting the real life experiences of Somalis in seven cities in Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Leicester, London, Malmo, and Oslo. The stories allow readers a unique insight into what everyday life is like as a Somali in Europe. Meet the Somalis is based on the firsthand testimonies of Somalis in Europe interviewed during six months in 2013.

The Somali community in Europe is a vibrant, diverse minority group, including people of Somali origin born in Europe, Somali refugees and asylum seekers, and Somalis who have migrated from one country in Europe to another. There are no accurate figures for the number of Somalis in Europe, but on the whole they are among one of the largest minority groups.

The illustrated stories focus on challenges faced by Somalis in their respective cities in Europe and issues raised in the Somalis in European Cities research, including education, housing, the media, employment, political participation, and identity.

Meet the Somalis depicts experiences many of us will never know, like fleeing a warzone with your children or, worse, leaving your loved ones behind. But more often, these stories portray the values shared amongst many of us, like the importance of family, well-being, and identity in an ever-changing world.

Stay tuned: Meet the Somalis will be translated into other languages soon.

At last, some good news. Somali women in the Diaspora, as well as in Somalia, are taking control of their sexuality and reproduction rights. According to the CIA World Factbook, Somalia is projected to have a total fertility rate of 6.26 in 2012. This is a decline from 7.18 in 2000. Overall, the projected total fertility rate in Somalia is steadily declining year on year. As a result of the ranking, Somalia is placed third on the global total fertility rate rank chart, right after Niger and Mali.

The reasons for the decline in total fertility rates could be several: the civil war, inability to support large families, family planning or women joining the labor force. I know from my work in Somalia, and here among the diaspora, that Somali women are taking charge of their bodies and opting for family planning. In any case, this is a positive development which is laudable.

The same positive trend is observable here in Finland also. According to Tilastokeskus (Statistics Finland), the total fertility rate in Somalis declined in the twenty years that they’ve been here almost by half: from 6.6 in 1990, to 4 in 2012. The number is even smaller in Somali-Finnish women aged 27-years and who live in the capital area (3.2 child per woman). Interestingly enough, Thai women whose population is estimated at 4,430 seem to have a higher fertility age than their Somali counterparts (3,650). This is contrary to the general myth here exploited by the True Finns (a populist and nationalist political party) that Somali women are a child-producing factory.

The decline in fertility rate means progress for some of the women who came here in the 90s and who have been unable to integrate due to various reasons. For the first time in many years, they can finally come out from their four walls, learn the Finnish language, get an education, join the labor force and eventually integrate into the Finnish society.

The second generation Somali-Finns are faring well compared to the first generation. Although they appreciate and see the value in having big families, they also feel that it would not be feasible in the Finnish context. First, the extended family network that would help with child-rearing is not available in Finland. Second, Finland is a very expensive country and thus raising a big family in an equitable manner is extremely difficult. Thirdly, second generation Somali-Finns want to enjoy life, travel more often and to see world, instead of being bogged down by child-rearing.

Although we have made positive progress in ensuring reproductive health rights, I feel we have a long way to still go. Personally, I believe that the future lies in the second and third generation Somali-Finns. They can play a greater role in building bridges between the Finnish authorities and first generation women. It is imperative that we enable women to choose when and how many children they want to have. Most importantly, women of child-bearing age, as a policy, should have access to culturally sensitive family planning information and services at every visit to health centers. However, this is an area that needs strengthening. Women cite religious reasons and the lack of information leaflets in the Somali language as a barrier to accessing these vital services. Thus and in order to increase access and uptake of family planning services, it important to develop culturally sensitive targeted campaigns on the benefits of reproductive health and family planning.