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Archive for October, 2006

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As if awaiting an impending disaster, the beautiful brunette briskly walked  behind me. And, of course, it wasn’t before long when she caught up with me, strolling down the promenade, my bag around my shoulder, completely immersed in Oscar Wilde’s luxuriant book – The Picture of Dorian Gray. I looked at her, and at once her clear hazel eyes fixated themselves generously onto mine. I quickly retreated, feeling as though I was marching into an unfamiliar territory that belonged to someone else.

 She was pushing a pram, where a baby lay watching his/her surroundings with profound enthusiasm.  The brunette looked at me, uncommonly, from time to time, as if wanting to ask for something. But she seemed too elegant for someone who would implore a young black man of something, I thought and kept walking. She seemed a bit hesitant, as she walked beside me, perhaps cognizant of some inexplicable implications. I felt as though she wanted to talk to me, yet she restrained herself, and though she tried to be as undemonstrative of her emotions as she could be, her unnaturalness gave her away instantaneously. And I, just like any other hot-blooded male would have interpreted these fleeting moments of eye contacts as an open invitation to bond with the beauty, but let me bring to light the location, and perhaps things might be a little clearer. 

We both walked side by side on the bridge in the above image, waiting for a vessel to transport us to the other side of the river
Thames. When the vessel pulls in, there is a flight of stairs to descend in order to get to the lower passenger deck. The vessel was pulling in when this happened, and I being the only other person there besides her and her baby, took her uneasiness and fleeting looks as a way of communicating instructions and insinuating her objective without really “wanting” to ask me for help.  She wanted to ask me to help her with carrying the baby buggy down the stairs, but she felt uneasy in doing so!

When the vessel, James Newman as it was called, pulled in, we both approached the stairs, on which occasion she crouched to pick up the whole buggy and lift it down the stairs, fumbling. Was she out of her mind risking a fall down 15 steps? Or was she too proud?  

Regardless, I sensed she wasn’t willing to ask for any help and gladly offered it myself, being the good-natured person that i am. ;) “Need help with that?” I asked

“Oh Yes, yes, please”, she answered, quite relieved that I asked. I was slightly startled by her reply – very eager she was.

I held the front of the buggy and as soon as I lifted it and started descending the stairs, the baby’s magnetic eyes gripped me and I smiled contentedly to which the baby replied with a piercing laugh and an infectious smile. It was a very beautiful baby indeed and that served as my reward. Babies have a natural tendency and charm to attract and captivate anyone with whom they came in contact.

When, on the other side of the river, I helped her ascend another flight of stairs, again out of own accord, she smiled and said “Thank you, than you very much” inaccurate even in articulation. 

I still didn’t understand why a simple act of asking for help proved so difficult. Wouldn’t I be justified in accusing her of xenophobia?

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Perception is how we see the world around us. It’s the image we have of everything around us. Suppose you are sitting in a crowded train early in the morning on your way to work in the city or in a bus, and you look around you, you observe the commuters or passengers and from their attitudes, style, dress sense, mannerism deduce certain information to form an opinion about them. The opinions you ascertain might be far from the truth and in most cases are, but unless and until you know them personally you cannot know what “is” the truth or what they “really” are like. With the information you learn from the people around you, you unconsciously filter it and approve or disapprove of it, depending on what you consider good or bad.

At times I feel like, or I sense, that I am being judged simply because I fit into previously held preconceptions of some people. People have the tendency to stereotype, and they do this too involuntarily because of previous experiences or because of what the society wants them to believe.

I certainly believe in my abilities as a person and my contribution to this society is vital, therefore, I am saying this without having to sound like someone who suffers from some sort of inferiority complex that, usually Black people are ‘expected’ to behave and act in certain ways, dress in a particular way – specially the youth – so when a case goes to court and the defendant is black, it is most likely that all evidence will lean heavily towards the defendant and ‘some’ of the Jury members would have formed their verdicts even before the case begins! Why? Because there are staunch in their beliefs and preconceived notions and nothing would change them, hence, the laws of equality and racial discrimination become nothing but fictional.

Personally, I dress in formal clothes for five days of the week, as my line of work demands, but on Saturdays and Sundays I dress in a more casual manner, wearing anything that my hand grabs. So I go out to the nearest grocery stores or supermarkets, wearing a tracksuit bottom and a hooded jumper depending on the weather. As soon as I jump on the bus, the passengers become wary of me, distancing themselves away from me and starring at me as if I have just killed someone! At the grocery store, a silky-haired Indian woman stands behind the counter, her long piercing eyes delving deeper into my soul, scrutinizing my every move, every inch, like a predator waiting for the right moment to strike. Bear in mind, before coming into the shop, I had taken my hood off, I am inclined to. For her, every Black man is a suspect and cannot be trusted.

Perception, too, is something that cannot be so easily changed, for a person to change his/her view of the world must take considerable strain and strength!

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The ruins of my country make me grave. There are times when I think that, yes, it can be salvaged and restored, and take heart with the news of the establishment of a government, believing that any sort of governance ought to be better than non-governance, and there I stand brimming with pride and optimism. For a bad government, once established, can later be transformed. But at times, pondering upon the petty feuds and clannish squabbles of my people, my high hopes turn to despondency and dejection.

Then the Islamic Courts came and rose to prominence, sending shock waves through the hearts of many. And most people even see the current government as a “faction” rather than an authority demanding its rightful place. And what’s the result? Turbulance!

But I strongly believe all this turbulence doesn’t stem from the the Somalis itself, but from external actors who aim to take advantage of Somalia by exploiting its clannish squabbles to suit their own interests. External actors such as Ethiopia, Eritrea and the US. Somalis, despite their differences, know how live with one another even at times of war, and would have had the situation not been exacerbated by these external factors.

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Common sense is not so common after all, if Shahid Malik, the Muslim MP for Dewsbury, said that the ruling (suspending Aisha Azmi after refusing to take off her veil on religious grounds) was a “victory for common sense”

Azmi, is now suspended on full pay but has been awarded a meagre £1000 for “injury to her feelings”. Now lets, speaking hypothetically, assume that a Homosexual teacher was suspended from the same school. What do you think the consequences of such action would be? Would the school even dare to do that? I am sure it wouldn’t be hard to discern that the school would be slapped with a damning indictment of discrimination, homophobia, and a ordered to forke out a hefty sum!

Several tactless and badly informed minister have also now joined tha hate-the-veil bandwagon and making themselves idiotic spectacles for the Veil isn’t something that words and hate would force the chaste women to take off!

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Somali Parents…

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Yesterday we had the Eid-ul-fitr celebration at our school. Not exactly a celebration but more a recognition of different faiths and cultures, which the school is doing its best to accomplish. Half of the school is of Ethnic minority origin and on top of the list is Somalis. So when the school holds a special event as this, in the honour of its diverse communities and religions, the Somalis would surely be expected to take part in it or at least attend and support their children.
The entire children of Keystage 1 and Keystage 2 had to rehearse for weeks and weeks in order to perform a Nasheed for their Muslim guests. I watched them rehearse a few times and helped them with it. So on the final day, yesterday, when they decided to perform it, to their amazement, and mine, there were no parents. Out of nearly 50 parents, two turned up, despite all having been informed many days in advance.
I am sure most of the Somali children themselves were gutted that their parents haven’t turned for such a significant event. If I was one of those children, I certainly would have loved it if my parents sat there in the benches watching while I performed.

Here is an excerpt from one of the songs they performed:

Ya nabi Salam – Alaika
Ya rasul Salam – Alaika
Ya habib Salam – Alaika
Salaawatullah Alaika

All of the sun and moon shining in the sky
But their light doesn’t shine bright enough
And my heart is filled with light from your love

With your light Divine, the world is awake
And the Nightingale is singing again
See the flowers have started blossoming
And the world is filled with life and joy
I am not a prophet only a child
Nor an angel nor a prophet of God
So they give their thanks to God because
He has made them one of His followers

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Baby Adoption

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So Madonna has adopted a Malawian Baby despite the Malawian government prohibiting international adoption.  The baby arrived here in London yesterday. Now these so-called celebrities even think that buying babies from developing countries is OK! how appaling! and the parents of such children are a disgrace to parenthood. If you can’t look after your baby because you are too poor, then stop breeding like rodents., or even give it to some of your relatives to look after it for you.

 As for Madonna and her likes, can’t they, instead of taking a baby with dissimilar lifestyles and cultures and a world alien to them, support them in their own country by providing money and other needs of the child?

 Or better, since you got the money, why not adopt the whole family? it would be just spare change wouldn’t it?

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