10. juli 2014 - 15:22

We are NOT One

I came to this country when I was a nine year old girl – given my own small trolley to hold. The biggest responsibility I had been given until then. I was wearing a fluffy kitsch and in hindsight mercilessly ugly white dress on my way on holiday. As many before me I was promised a short vacation that turned into 21 years. I don’t blame my mother for lying, she probably had good reasons. After a couple of weeks at Camp Sandholm we were finally moved to an all-Somali asylum camp.

Sandholm had been difficult. Difficult as we became aware that the holiday never actually began and the situation could be permanent, difficult as a child and especially difficult as a female.

For those who do not no the place - Sandholm is an old military barrack at the outskirts of northern Zeeland. Secluded from society it lays close to other military facilities – places where military training and practice still occur.

Back then and till this present day the Danish government finds it rational and without consequence to keep refugees, torture victims, children, elders with post traumatic stress in camps that make them as sick as the turmoil they left.

A Camp where people of different nationalities and different levels of stress and trauma are crammed together. A place where children still are molested, women are afraid to leave there rooms and decades of not knowing what the future holds leads to despair, drug abuse and suicide.

I was glad we left that place. We moved to Southern Denmark – a Somali camp close to the German border. This is where I learned Danish as well as Somali – Our neighbor’s were the famous Naji Family. Fighting daily with his sons over a football or the swing I ended up learning Somali but sounding a true Reer Hamari – Only with darker skin.

My second real meeting with the Somali community was when we were given asylum and later permanent residency and moved to Fredericia.

In a class for newly arrived immigrants we all tried to learn this new language that was so immensely difficult to pronounce. Danish, which is actually why people call Danes potatos – not because they eat so many of them, but because the language in the beginning sounds like your trying to speak with a whole potato in your mouth.

Once the extra classes of Danish lessons were redundant I was offered lessons in Somali. We were taught the phonetics and grammar of our mother tongue along with the broader social and political history of Somalia - the civil war and clan struggles.

The logic I met everywhere was this – clan fetishism was the reason for the civil war – it had torn Somalia apart. We needed to unite – become one and move forward. I couldn’t agree more.

Growing up I never knew my own clan. I was the laughing stock as a teenager, because I thought my clan was my last name – meaning I had my own personal clan. Pretty arrogant.

It also meant not truly understanding what so many others had gone through. But having said this I understood the need for a break with the need to constantly separate yourself from your fellow Somali. And I understood the importance, especially for our generation to try and erase the so called differences that had meant bloodshed for so many.

Suppressing differences to be able to unite. One Somalia – one religion – one language.

But this erasing of background, the erasing of individual struggle –privileges, positions and the erasing of differences comes with a price.

As the radical feminist Audre Lorde once said:

When everything’s burning around us, it looks like it’s easier to deal with the sameness, the similarities. But when we deal with sameness only, we develop weapons that we use against each other when the differences become apparent. And we wipe each other out – and we sadly can wipe each other out – far more effectively than outsiders can. When we allow ourselves to look at our differences and not allow ourselves to be divided. When we own them and are not alienated by them, that is when we will be able to move on.

To be Somali is to be many things – as we can see here today, with young Somalis from America, Denmark, Norway, Sweden. Somalis that before coming to the West grew up in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, The Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Speaking Amharic, Arabic, Russian, French Swahili and the list goes on and on and on.

Religious Somalis, agnostic Somalis, athiest Somalis, Socialist Somalis, Nationalist Somalis, Queer Somalis, Liberal Somalis, Conservative Somalis, Feminist Somalis, Traditional Somalis.

We’re all here – And we need to accept that.

We have to give birth over and over to ourselves; to our understandings of each other and kill the widespread mythology that one person’s spotlight is dependent on another person’s shadow?

Nobody's free until everybody's free.

Talen blev holdt ved Nordic Somali Youth Summit - New Generation, New Voice 6. juni 2014.