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Friday, November 8, 2013

Vær så god Nina Simona! To sekunder, Ja...Visning ja... når?

She changed her name from Nafissa to Nina Simona and. This is DittOslo

Nightbird, when cometh the dawn? You don't know, so just sing on! Song of liberation is on. Switch on the light of the mind.

I feel like I enter into small veins and tunnels of life no matter how big the canvas. And search for light, not a flat. 

Who is there in the universe of which we say we are all children of to say some things? Is she also a child of the universe and does she have a right to be here? Where in the world can one not play free and black but just be?

And inside there, I see her seated. I imagine it is me. I imagine explaining to my children that am no longer officially called Nafissa say Sadik for a man? My friends now hesitate to call me Naf as they always have. Or Sad. My son looks angry. He is 17. He gets angrier every hour, every day.

But there is something to celebrate. I come home with a new name and more interviews each day but still no job. He gets furious. In the end he does not seem to see us. He is in a world of his own. I know I cannot excuse every crime, I am so deeply frustrated that a man should shoot people on a bus in Årendal and I cannot excuse him, for his misery. But was he looking of a different face to wear in this society? That is a question we must ask. Destruction and rage come because one wants to replace something they cannot name. Perhaps it leads to madness but that is not the point.  

It should never, ever be excused, please understand me when I say this for it was the same thing we said of Anders Breivik. But let me go back to the name thing and the loss of the self you need to be confident and to serve without fear, to belong.

I love Shakespeare but there is a lot in a name, and more than in a name as such, so much in people knowing who you are. Your identity. And that has nothing to do with what your skin looks like or name sounds like the advanced world wants to say with one mouth but then, there are contradictions.

I saw two photos of her sitting there in the local newspaper Ditt Oslo, which is also online the first thing that came to mind was 'Ho! today someone of darker skin is in a long feature!' This is Norway. This is a small publication named Your Oslo. But you do not see all yours in Oslo often. And the media is the first place of the creation of that thing we call integrering here, Integration in English. This is not America ( by the way is one of the tunes you hear when you ring UDI that is the Immigration police here and that's funny. I wondered how an American takes that?

This is not another part of the world. It is Oslo, the capital city of Norway not Stockholm. This is not Sweden. It is Norway. Why repeat? Well, one reason is that a certain Minister for Culture and Entertaiment in Sweden found hideous cake good to cut and show how it gets cut, it was shape of woman.. that is another story if you missed it am sure this big Internet field for the world has it for you. Just tweak a little. 

So, Nafissa: She changed her name so that she could get positive replies to if she could view a flat and also get a job interview. It sounded too Muslim she said. But the paper affirmed something that the authorities of today in Norway call non-existent here. Racism. Don't talk about that. We are like stilled here. Likestilling. Social equality!

So did Nafissa remain who she was? Was she going to hit the headlines if she remained Nafissa? Some pilots hit the headlines on TV channels for changing their names too. They said that when some passengers heard soon after 9/11 words such as: "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain Mohammed Nuru speaking..." Well, they did not hear the rest. I think if you change your name for the flight it is no problem but forever? To get a job? To get a house? Well some people argue it is fine. They will say to me. 

"Come on, Nafissa is clever, hun er så flink slik at...! Some Norwegians have said in this interview that this is the one thing that makes them totally ashamed to be Norwegian. Others say, well.There are many others who do it and then they get a job. Like Mr Terje Tordvel who was actually Singh Babaji who came from Stavanger to Oslo. At the aiport where his interview was, it was hard for the Norwegian man interviewing him ( it would also have been hard for me) to identify him and believe anything about him. 

Some people changed names and got the job and then they kept it only for a while because of likestilling, equality, social equality? Well, the employer will tell you that they were not up to the mark, not quality material. Likestilling tongue in cheek, a famous woman here.

Norwegians often tell the anecdote that some people remark, 'Oh, the capital of Sweden!' When they say the come from Norway. And that can't be fun. For many years precisely upto 1904 Sweden occupied Norway. 

Now one would like to say, especially if Norwegian that Norway is independent, and it is. That it is not a part of Sweden and will never be. You never know about that.  I suspect that some people in the world would more often think that Stockholm is the capital of Norway even when they live in Oslo.

Just imagine if Norway had to change her name to Sweden just to get a little more famous. Go on, let's try. Let us change all the letter heads tonight, stamps, constitution and all laws and wake up and say... hmmm, treat us like this because we are now Swedish. Extreme? Not at all. Black people were mainly colonised or slaved by Europeans and now they change their names. But she was clever.. .hahaha! Nina Simona music and background, not bad at all... but see Norway saying just call me Namibia today because I would like the world to know I can really tap sunshine from the highest mountains these days. I won't even move to the South of the Sahara, just call me Namibia and when you are tired, call me... South Africa.. Oh, no, don't, there is Jacob there and his ladder of women .. no and that thing we fought about so hard in Norway and sang it out and went to meet Mandela.. that thing, Apartheid.. racism. No, no, Oh No! Don't say that. But my angry boy was saying it so loudly last summer.

"Why do you keep us away from Norwegians in your classes?" Happens only in Oslo they say. He went on.. really so tired and sick of it.. "I did so well to learn your language, to get good marks but I cannot be with you!" Talk about welcome teenage rage. Teenagers want to, demand to belong. Say on there... go on! Teens make a different nation. 

Well, I love Oslo. I do in my own ways. But you see when there is even a Somali bus to go for food shopping in Sweden and others who drive there back and forth, well many peoples' capitals start in the stomach and for that you cannot blame me. It is so. 

I would like to say that racism is over. That is a wish. No such thing. What is also not heard enough is different approaches which this nation of Norway, by now you are confused which one am talking about surely or just maybe, needs to do a lot more. What I see is that people who talk about racism in Norway are often the ones who suffer it. 

And then, in a conference say, like one in which the Mayor of London came to hear and help Norway to deal with what they all called Multiculturalism, you begin to see that when these people speak they already show they have a chip on their shoulder. This should not be their battle. Or mine but we have to squeak when the shoe pinches because nobody else will know it does. That is folk wisdom and actually they say there is no racism here.  That is not just they but the State leaders of 2013. 

I just want to add if you are still reading that soon after Erna Solberg and her team beat Jens Stoltenberg's. 

That means a swing to the right, there was an ad at bus stops soon after. It was the first time almost in my life that I saw women in an ad that were not slightly nude. I don't know who they were. By the time I thought to take a photo it was gone. Two women tightly clad in a Norwegian flag and woven into one like a mermaid below. That might not have been the right way to say we are right now but freedom is here.
Racism equals the trashing of all search for equality. Don't tell stories of equality if ...
Sigrid Undset is saying in her time, there is no equality between men and women but she sympathises with all who search for it. 
But, just a thought. I have written elsewhere. Do not speak to me about the equality of women if you still entertain racism. Forget it. It cannot work and never will. Racism divides women and men to a level which makes all the fight for other rights just nonsensical. And young men dislike very much to see disempowered mothers and fathers. I cannot give you the root of radicalisation but I know it does not start too far from here. Adults, parents are people playing games with systems to survive, to make a point. Young people do the same. They want them to belong. Can they? Could they?

I am for non-violence and will never bless a radicalised person, but I will ask myself where they came especially if they are so near me. I will not ask what race they are, nor religion so fast. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Friends, bureaucracy and the snow

One day, the Norwegian bureaucracy will thaw and the people will look around and suddenly recognise themselves as the country. The youth will look to America less and sing in Urdu as proudly as they sing in English. So very often one meets opposites in Oslo. One meets Norwegians who are so friendly and eager to invite one into their lives and then one meets the less open person who is described as Scandinavian by those who come from other lands.

She sat next to me as we drank the traditional Norwegian porridge on the 23rd in an almost strictly family set up. She came in happy and well dressed, cheerie for such a winter time. It is hard in the winter to make the difference between oneself and the cold hard weather clear. Some people love it but it but it pinches at some stage. Well, I know for most girls the long and elegant legs are hidden for long. But anyway, she was not one of those. On her mind were many other things. She had a sick child but she was cheerful. She just kept the phone near her. We chatted. I was next to her and she was happy we could say quite a lot in Norwegian.

Then the topic came up. Loneliness. You see an ad in the papers months before Christmas had stirred quite a lot of debate. It was a woman asking anybody to join her and celebrate Christmas with her. It touched many people to remember that there are people who are that lonely. People who so yearn for a human touch and cannot easily get it. But our conversation never actually mentioned this person or the ad. It was simply about how different peoples relate. She told me that she was a social worker. She is Norwegian. She said she was tired of people pretending that they did not need others and in that regard she was not in favour of Norway when it is seen as people who would rather keep to themselves.

She told me too that her daughter often wished they had been born Africans. We did not go much into that but the reason I had to ask for. Well, she thought Africans... we, have a way with relationships? Is it us or all people from where the sun rises joyfully and truly and is happy to spend a longer time? I am so afraid of stereotypes these days that am writing a book titled Out to Kill. 

Yes, to kill. To kill stereotypes for they are far too many. They are killing us these stereotypes. But anyway I knew what she meant. At Stortinget station as I waited with my little one to get onto a train to Vestli for this party, an African man came running. Was he African? Is skin enough. Well, he just missed the train for Songsvan. He almost made it and .... no he had to wait again. When we looked our side I smiled and said to him that in a few minutes another one was coming. He was in a real hurry he now took ours... seems he could connect somehow. But he was so happy that we noticed him and spoke to him. I only knew that when he got off the subway. He happily bade us goodbye. We had never seen him.

I was telling my friend then that perhaps because of our many experiences in life we learned to allow other people to lean on our thoughts, on our reactions, a smile or something ... some concern. It helps you know. Sometimes your ribs are dry in the city and you are nervous in case a bomb should go off or in case of I do not- not- know -what, yes, maybe you are looking for a job?
Ellers snnake du Norsk?... and you are at home or not at home but this is home for now. And there is noone to lean on in that way? Not all love was meant to be intimate... society is meant to love in the streets... and laugh too? I know it is not funny. I know.

But she was happy talking to me and she loved me. I know. We had a very good time with a family that invited us ever since when they did not know us, you know? There are Norwegians who are known for their hospitality. And they have stories about hospitality in the very past, long, long time ago... with stories that end with a snip, snap snutte!