Entries in Celebrating Fatherhood (16)
I haven't been completely honest about the Fatherhood journey.
What I neglected to say is that I was born a boy.
No, really, what had happened was...a friend used to say that..anywho..thing is..
someone pledged £1000 to the cause and then disappeared. I tried to make contact but it's been at least 6 weeks and I haven't heard a peep. I'm slow to accepting the worse case scenario- which isn't the possibility of the pledger(?) being dead but that the he chose not to cough up and stayed silent.
I filled the silence with meaning over the last few weeks, nodded in understanding, crinkled my brow with circumstances beyond pledger's control and inhaled deeply at the possibility of a visit from the Angel of Death.
It tooke me a while but finally, eventually I accepted that I had been screwed over.
I had bitten off more than I could chew where the finances were concerned. So I tried to retrieve money I had loaned someone.
I texted, emailed and left messages.
I don't know which one sucks more; the pledger's or the borrower's.
Say it with me: Ouch.
It's been days since the Friday evening celebrating fatherhood and I have been silent. There is an assumption that I have been resting. I was restless by Saturday evening, over the tiredness by Sunday afternoon, bored out of my mind by Monday evening, bloated by Tuesday on meat, time unspent productively, East Enders, junk food and mostly silence. I have not answered calls, listened to voice messages or emailed much.
In the 3 months that the fatherhood project lived I sent about 300 emails regarding it to everyone I knew and plenty I didn't. I made more phone calls than I probably have in the last few years of my life, perhaps several years. I was never a phone person.
In the last days I have slipped back into a routine that was more like my life used to be, meat over-consumption aside. It's been one-dimensional, dull and quiet. There is only aspect of my life that is thriving and alive. That alone would have kept me going once upon a time but it too is self-serving. Now life has little meaning when I shorten my reach, shrink my ambitions, leave places where no one has gone before untouched.
I knew when I read that paragraph in R Omaar's book that Feltham Young Offenders Institute would be my next stop. It called to me. I did nothing about it, convincing myself that I needed my concentration trained on the fatherhood intiative. I may have underestimated myself.
Now that I've binged on my old life for days I am certain that a life of service to myself alone is no longer a possibility.
I emailed a friend who works with young youth offenders and asked for some links. I also Googled a couple of words and stopped at the first article. In it I read all that I need to get me started. Read here.
I keep re-reading this:
Feltham holds an average of 650 boys daily, out of which sadly 190 are registered as Muslims! However, by the grace of Almighty approximately 150 attend Jumuah Salaah (Friday Prayers) weekly, Alhamdu lillah (All praises for Almighty) many have started to pray five times a day regularly and many keep optional fasts. Further handfuls have also started performing Tahajjud (Night time) prayers daily whilst in the prison.
I have two requests for Book & Food donations.
So I will write to him now. I wonder what this Eid will be like at Feltham? 15-21 year olds locked up for wrong-doings. 29% are Muslims! And the Somalis are the largest moniroty group there. Over-representation in the jails. Why when locking up a teenager should be the last resort? What are free Somalis doing to keep the system alive? We are responsible for this too.
I hear slamming doors and echoes through corridors. And that is only because I know I will visit soon inshallah.
Off to send official first email of justice, meet hope...return calls and thank beautiful folk.
God guide me.
So it happened. Eventually. :-)
I don't know how you review something you were partly responsible for without being biased so I won't. I'll leave it to those that were in the audience to blog about it. I look forward to the criticism. The feedback forms the attendees filled in are also a gem- some responses I expected, others were a surprise. I thank all that were there on the night, including the one that made the effort of answering each question in the feedback form with, 'sh*t'. LoL.
In the 3 months leading up to the event I learned a few things:
You don't have to be a genius to make something happen- if I can do it, anybody can. I knew nothing of fatherhood, setting up a charity, hiring a venue, inviting performers and speakers and most of all had little contact with the community itself. You just have to get off your backside and make a commitment.
Somalis are blind to their capabilities- I have had support, suggestions and encouragement everywhere I went and yet over and over the people would say that our people are no good. This has not been my experience at all! Far from it, even the most cynical helped. There is an extraordinary desire by our people to make a contribution, I have seen it forst hand over and over and I am proud, PROUD in a way that I have never been to belong to the community of Somalis here in London and elsewhere.
My advice to all Somalis would be to STOP COMPLAINING. Stop dishonouring yourselves so powerfully and consistently. A people that does not believe in itself and think itself worthy will never endeavour to take on worthy issues. There is no hero, knight in armour, sheik, saviour or genius on the horizon on his/her way to save us from ourselves. It is for each of us to make an impact and act. We are worthy, we deserve the BEST! Stop complaining for the love of God; it is incredibly disempowering- imagine what this does to the young- and has a whiff of ungratefulness about it. Most of us are fed, clothed and sheltered and have available to us resources- man power, education, money, technology and the amazing unfathomable human brain. Next time you complain, ask yourself what you have done about the matter about which you complain. If the answer is nothing, u have nothing to complain about. God loves the grateful. Be grateful and get up and go..................
I have not achieved all of the results I wanted to, far from it but I aimed high for things that I felt were beyond my capability, bore the discomfort of fearing failure, the constant complaints(stop it!), managed to involve many others in what was once just a mere idea in my head. I have not achieved perfection but I am inspired, focused now, firm in my belief that a people as generous as the Somalis deserve only the best, the best of me. I hope you too will join in my endeavour to hon0urs ourselves.
Shaafi- I thank you, you were made for the stage. Creative, energetic, handsome and engaging, mashallah.
Sagal- God only knows how much I appreciate your work and your spirit; you are gorgeous, effective and active. I will tell the whole world over and over. Thank you. Mac.
Mustafa- my lovely assistant. The one night you told me to go to bed when I was talking about cancelling the event alone is worth a million precious stones. Thank you for ordering me to go to bed. In the morning it didn't seem so bad. You were one of the first to join Nomadic Expression, I remember how your eyes lit up only on hearing the idea and later when I asked you to do things you were not experienced in you rarely said No. You are responsible, funny, intelligent and a source of pride.
I thank Tony Warner, Humera Khan, Xudeydi, Mecca2Medina, Book Of Rhymes, Prince Abdi for being part of something unique.
My family, thank you all for listenig with patience, fatherhood this, fatherhood that! Hooyo, I wish more people had your energy mashallah. Aabe, you wasted no time in listing all the possible activities and projects I should tackle next, I will never run out of your ideas! My brothers for helping and being there; my sister for helping and doing the worrying for me. To all amazing people I met in the lat 3 months, thank you- Leyla and the Somali Youth Forum, Kinsi, Seynab, Farid and the Youth Enlightenment team, SOL, the bloggers, you all do great work, may God bless you!
Finally to everybody, the event lacked fathers and mothers and children!! At one school alone my own mother gave out flyers to twenty-something Somali mothers who were encouraged to attend. Several schools in the area were targetted, as were Somali-run cafes, shops, community centres, all 9 nine libraries in the vicinity of the area. The flyers were even given out at a mafrash or two. It isn't that people didn't know, they just chose not to come. I hope that as a people we can come together for those that are not the same gender as us, the same age group as us, don't face the same difficulties as us or excel in the same areas as us. Everything that one of us suffers or celebrates is relevant. Please do not ignore or fail to acknowledge a certain group of people within the community just because you do not identify with them! We are one.
I am happy to be part of you and I have come to love you with a love that is a verb, a love of action and commitment. The best of me is yet to come.
I haven't been able to write. In my head, the words rush around too quickly and bounce off one another disappearing into a space too distant. I've been talking about the event for 2.5 months now and there has been so much I have learned about myself and the Somali community. The words might come unstuck some day soon. May be they need a retrospective background to appear against. I don't know.
What I do know is that some of you have been inspired enough to mention your fathers and the event in your blogs. Here:
Let me know if there are more of you out there doing this. It makes up for my writer's block.
I am excited about the event- 2 days to go inshallah- and have dreamed of it two nights in a row. I wish I could remember what I was saying in the dreams but noooo my words want to remain a surprise even to me. We'll learn about Somalis' history in the UK(men in particular), work done with Muslim fathers in the UK, hear some good old kaban(don't think I've ever heard this live!), be tickled by Prince Abdi's humour and entertained by Mecca2Medina and Book of Rhymes. I hope to see you all there.
Here's praying it'll go spectacularly. Amen.