Entries in Paradise was here (16)
I was invited to speak at the 100 Black Men Careers held on the 24th of February at the Imperial War Museum. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed creating a power point presentation. It was a hoot, digging out old pics of myself to aid me in talking through my life. The children asked smart, relevant questions. One boy said he nearly didn't come as he had to go to malcaama(religious study school) but his father encouraged him to go. The boy said he was glad he came and at the end came to say good bye and shook my hand, offering to help however he could with the situation at Feltham. I still have you in mind, Ahmed. Thanks, u're quite a guy!
Here's the 100 Black Men Careers Day in pictures.
Ahmed left a well-hidden message on the blog:
100 Black Men educate the Black community through film. On Saturday the 17th of March they will hold a Black Women Rule The World event showing(indented content below from the black history walks site):
The Yaa Asantewa Story
Produced in Ghana this is the story of the African Warrior Queen who shamed the men into action and led her 5000 strong army against the British invaders
Black Women Rule
There is only one country in the entire world where 48% of the MPs are women. There is no European country that even comes close. The African country in question is tiny, landlocked and its women have been through unbelievable trauma and tribulation and yet they are running the country, running businesses and running their families. This is their amazing story.
Unbought and Unbossed: The Shirley Chisholm Story
Shirley Chisholm was the Barbadian/Guyanese woman who ran for President of the United States in 1972. Her amazing story must be seen. In 1968 she became the first black woman to be elected to Congress. During her first term in she hired an all-female staff and spoke out for civil rights, women's rights, the poor and against the Vietnam War. She remarked that, 'Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes.'
Address and times:
Saturday March 17th
Imperial War Museum (conference room)
Lambeth Road SE1
For details visit the black history walks site.
Black history walks around London(perfect for kids and adults alike) commence on March the 10th. See here. I can't wait to gather a few friends and family and walk through the City and around Trafalgar Square and learn about the African history of these areas. Go on, get together, walk and learn.
I wrote and wrote and wrote last night about the Somali Success Day held last week at Thames Valley University and when I clicked Save I wasn't actually connected to cyberspace. Let's just say aye aa cuney or whatever and I don't have the heart yet to repeat myself 18 hours though having passed.
Had a lovely day though! Well done to Kudu Arts, Aim Higher, TVU, the students and the speakers. The image I put together from photographs I took of the day will have to speak for itself for now.
When I start to get negative about humanity, I remember why I shouldn't. Laos in pictures.
I spent last Saturday in Southall, it reminded me of my childhood but there was no time to people-watch, pick up kitch Bollywood memorabilia or satisfy my magpie lust.
I and many others(glad to see the numbers there) attended the seminar held on the youth at Feltham Young Offenders Institute. The statistics made me catch my breath:
10,000 Muslim prisoners currently held at 140 prisons. The Muslims make 10-12% of the entire prison population. The 2001 consensus estimates the Mulsims in England and Wales to be only 2.5% of the population.
an average of 28% of the popultation at Fletham is Muslim
there are more and more of them at Feltham: the Muslim Chaplain's reception records show an average of 68 receptions per month for the period 2005-2006. For the period 2003-2004 there were about 42 a month.
and they're reoffending more. Between Jan and April 06 alone, 53% of them reoffended. Only a third of them are first-time offenders.
30% of the Muslims are Somalis. There numbers are rising and are a source of great concern.
And this is where the community comes in, the men in particular are encouraged to join the mentoring programme organised by the Community Chaplaincy for Feltham. Mentors will be trained and assigned a young man due to leave Feltham and return to the borough where the mentor resides. There will be CRB checks but training can be started whilst the mentor waits for clearance.
Also, young men are encouraged to visit Feltham and join the boys in their Friday prayers- there will be no checks required for this. Abdullah Rawat, the Muslim Chaplain will have to be informed days in advance so he may organise a visitor pass. This would be a good way for those considering mentoring or awaiting completion of training to get to know the boys. Please contact Abdullah Rawat at email@example.com to express your interest. For those who can't commit to the mentoring programme but live locally, please do attend the Friday prayers with the young men at Feltham so that they feel part of the wider community and see examples of Somali men facing similar tests and succeeding. I encourage you all to consider mentoring and informing your community groups of the problem at Feltham.
There is also a menoring programme option for females in the jails. 7% of the females are Muslim. Saynab of the Somali Women's Network is organising a seminar to highlight mentoring opportunities at female prisons. I'm on the list already. If you'd like to attend this seminar, keep reading the blog, I'll update as soon as I know the details and you can then sign up.
I hope to work further with Saynab and her organisation and who ever else out there who has an involvement at Feltham and other prisons. I have a few ideas- film, books, seminars on Feltham that act as a deterrent to young Somalis and a wake-up call for the rest of us. If you have any creative ways of targetting young people and or highlighting the high numbers of Somalis at Feltham, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Commission for Racial Equality has commissioned a project that is examining the experience of minorities between 15 and 21 in the prison system; results will be out later this year. A couple of pieces of research so far point to the usual drawbacks.
The situation is dire. To be a black, male, Muslim commiting crime and being at the mercy of a system that is not in the young minority person's favour is grim. I urge all Somali men to participate, enagage, motivate and inspire the young men of our community. This is our problem. It's time to make it disappear, God willing.