Entries in Paradise was here (16)
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.
So next week God willing, the tickets to the evening celebrating fatherhood will go on sale. I'll return later with a list of community centres, youth groups and Somali hang-out places where the tickets will be available- any suggestions, let me know and I'll have a bunch of tickets made available there. The tickets will also be available online and over the telephone as I hope to have as many people as possible have access to them! Get them when they're out!
I'm having a ball inviting people to perform at the event; hearing of things and people I'd never heard of before and things are forming into an exciting shape. Announcements next week as and when I get final confirmations! I'll tell you this: Somalis are a generous lot. I love them like never before.
Speaking of love, I dreamed of Cambodia the other night; walking through a market and having someone hold up their goods for me- what looked like a little man on stick- a snack of sorts. It woke me up and I remembered the time I was deep in sleep on a bus and being pulled out of it by a voice asking, 'You want? You want?'. I opened my eyes to find something so close to my face I could not recognise it. I pulled back, blinked and saw that a woman was waving a frog on a stick in my face. A frog, frozen in time by death and looking remarkably frog-like even through the batter that wrapped it. 'No, thanks', I said like it was every day a frog was waved in my face. I miss Cambodia's surprises. I watched a tourist accept and bite into the frog. He nodded. I wondered if it tasted like chicken; how disappointing that would be; yet another creature that tasted like chicken!
I'll dig out a photo.
I took it on the coast of Cambodia around the time of the Tsunami(it didn't hit Cambodia). On the morning of the Tsunami I was sitting under a tree reading and eating seafood grilled on the beach, stopping kids, sharing food and limited vocabulary and noticing that the water was agitated. I returned to where I was staying to pray the afternoon prayer and there huddled in front of the TV were a group of mesmerised people. I stopped, sat heavily in a chair, watched through teary eyes.
It shook me; I love South East Asia and to see the intial footage of people wiped away from places where I had been, paradise-like, now churned with a hellish fury left me pained and longing to do something heroic. I was around the corner afterall, I could help! And do what the voice of reason asked? Add another mouth to feed to the chaos? Soon I heard that Somalia too had been hit and if felt like where I started from and where I ended up were connected by destruction. Suddenly I wanted to go back to England. I rejected the job offer I had accepted days earlier, making up some excuse, wrote to a nurse who worked for Medecins Sans Frontieres(how could I help?) and returned to the capital. The nurse wrote back months later. She apologised for the delay- she had been in Aceh.
You can't pick heroic deeds, they pick you.
I almost had 3 hours sleep last night(this morning more like). After sitting in a chair(s) for the best part of 20 hours, my joints warmed up and ached and my eyes burned. I took something so I could sleep. Ibuprofen, thank you, where would I be without your anti-infammatory self?
I was completely responsible for putting myself in a position where I had to prepare through the night for an appointment I had had a week to prepare for. I've realised like most people I have self-destruct mechanisms in place, for use when I least should. Mine is a self-destruct wand. I wave it over a situation I don't want to deal with and it makes it disappear. Voila!! Or not.
See no situation, hear no situation, speak no situation.
Situation? What situation?
And so on until there comes a point where the situation returns, stopping me in my tracks, looming over me with urgency. Do something!!
5am, slouched over a laptop, typing with creaking fingers, the singing birds appear to be laughing at me. Nature can't be denied; it demands rest for the body and mind. I go to bed and pull the duvet over me but there is no hiding from my self-destruct wand. It pokes me in the ribs and keeps me up for long minutes I can scarce afford to lose. It laughs too now. The 5 page document I had been creating for hours has not been printed. I did not have a printer. Without the document, there would be little point in keeping the appointment but it wasn't one I could get out of. The situation watched over me as I slept for the next couple of hours. There was nothing I could about it at 5:45am. I took full responsibilty for having fed it to its current gross, demanding proportions and prayed for sleep to come take me away.
Some time after 8am, after having switched the alrm off and convinced I was laying in bed awake with eyes closed(when in fact I was asleep with eyes closed), a foot cramp took hold and curled my right foot. I jumped. I have never had one of those in bed but how grateful for its visit I was.
At 8:50am I was outside the Internet Cafe. It's shutters looked immovable. I had a sense they wouldn't be groaning upwards any time soon. To its left is a hairdressers, a woman comes out, locks the door behind her and walks by me. To the hairdressers left, a shop with some variation of the word, 'Print' on it. It mocks me. It's shutters as immovable as its neighbours.
I rush into the flower shop next to the Internet cafe. Do you know when the Internet Cafe next door opens?
The lady, with flowers in her hand says: I don't think they open until 10 o clock.
Oh, no!(part of the language of the fasting self-destructive personality)
Do you have a printer?( light bulb)
A printer?! No.
I say something about the urgency of the matter.
There's a shop further down(yeah, yeah, the one that does printing and mocking)
She walks me out of her shop and points to it. It's still closed.
I thank her and seeing that the hairdresser lady is back in her seat, I walk in. I try not to beat down the door and frighten the life out of her.
Hello! she says cheerily
Hi.Do you have any idea when the Internet place opens?
Not until 10, 10:30.
I really need to print something. I have to be somewhere at 10am!
She looks concerned for me.
Do you have a printer?(if at first you don't)
Yeah, I do.
Can I use it please? I will pay you for it.
For the next couple of minutes a flurry of non-hairdresser-like activity ensues. She lifts her heavy chair up and out of the way, fiddles with the printer and makes way for me. While she does this I lean over her desk looking for a USB connection on her machine. Yes, it has one! I show her my memory stick(I am now officially a geek) and tell her how one of these babies can hold the entire memory a computer could a few years ago. In that small thing!
I am geek. Hear me squeak.
As I'm booting the machine up, an old lady walks in. The lady helps her hang her coat up. They chit-chat like you can only chit-chat at a hairdressers. The lady tells me she was at her computer class the night before and couldn't get the hang of some Microsoft functionality, the words flew all over the page, she said. She didn't know that much about computers but wanted to learn.
The printer works like a dream. I had not seen anything like it before, what was it?(OK, I'll quit the techie angle)
I walk up to her and say: Thank you very much! How much do I owe you?
Oh, you're alright(London-speak for 'u needn't worry')
Thank you! You've been a great service to me. I'll come back and get you customers!
Thank you. I need them.
Listen, I run a website(blog, I know but one lesson a day!) and have started a charity which aims to get people in the community to contribute to one another like you have done today. Would you like it if I mentioned you on there and publicised your generosity and hairdressers?
Great. I will send you a link to the website. Do you have a card?
Over there by the desk.
All I see are match books.
The macth books.
Do you have an email address?
The lady abandons the hair-washing she is in the middle of and rushes to her desk. She pulls out a post-it note from her diary and I take down her website(hurrah, she's online) and her email address.
She said I'd find the website in the Favourites.
If it's saved under your Favourites it will only be in yours(so I snuck in one more lesson, shut it).
She says that maybe I could come back and teach her some time.
Yeah, sure. Thanks again!
As I leave she says: come back again!!!
I will. What's your name?
I love Su's genorisity and openess to strangers. She didn't blink when I asked if I could ask to use her printer. Like it was the kind of thing that happens every day. May be it does for her!
Her place is called, 'SpendLoads-Please Hair and Beauty Salon'. I love the name.
Whoa, I've just clicked Enter on her homepage and read Su's message:
Hi my name is Suzanne Easterbrook
My way of life was and still is dedicated to you.
For the last 25 years & dictated through my hands such fantastic works of art can be created.The ulltimate smile can be brought about an uplifting shampoo & headmassage & a new Hairstyle can be created with love.
If you're a Bermondsey local (SE, London) go spend at SpendLoads-Please and spend loads!!!!!!!!!!
Tell her I said: memory stick.
I stopped by Tescos on the way home tonight. To go food shopping when fasting is to go home laden with complex carbohydrates- remembering yesterday(cakes and juice, cakes and juice)- I picked a few necessary items(pecan danish aside) and walked by corriander.
I never walk by corriander and not buy some. My fridge has been empty of corriander for a while now and I had a plan to cook for a change tonight. Moving in closer I notice the corriander is not alone. It's in a pot. Fresh corriander. What does one do with a pot of fresh corriander?Worrying that I'd kill it(mint comes to mind, so easily killed) I turn it over looking for instructions.
How to care for me
Treat me like a houseplant.
how might that be?
Gently remove my wrapping..
and place me on a saucer
if that's how you like it
I may not stand upright due to my natural growing habit.
you come with a habit, where?
I enjoy bright conditions but don't leave me in cold draughts
or above warm radiators
demanding, aren't you?
Carefully water the surface of my pot
trying not to splash me.
Please do not over water me
you're too good for drowning baby, I have other plans.
Why do they have to do that, make a corriander talk? Make me talk back to it?
I took the tube after scanning the corriander- it comes with its own bar code- and other necessities(rice pudding included) through a machine that also talked to me when I least cared and stayed silent as I waved the item over and over the detector. After waiting for 5 minutes- an eternity at rush hour as you watch the platform throb with robot-like humans, I let myself be carried in by a wave of bodies, squished and straining under handbag and bags. I looked down to see the corriander collapsed under pomegranate juice. Nooo! Lifting heavy arms I pushed the bullying juice away and sighed with relief. 12 minutes since I first saw it and the corriander was still alive.
It was then that the tube talked to me too. The next station is Moorgate it said confidently. Moorgate!! How did I get to Moorgate? And why didn't the talking corriander warn me?
I got home and headed straight for the kitchen. Within minutes I was chopping an onion. It made me cry. It must have been something it said.
They're going to take over, these veggies.
So, I killed it.
No sooner do I mention Cambodia than I receive an email from a man I met in Bangkok a couple of years ago whilst looking for the Cambodian embassy. I had read somewhere that black people sometimes had a hard time entering Cambodia so decided to get the visa at the embassy in Bangkok rather than risk arriving at the border and being refused an on-the-spot visa. In the end my border episode was a delightful one, a mere hint of the wonderous time I would have in Cambodia. In the bumpy taxi-ride from the border I fell in awe and love with the flat, mysterious, haunting, landscape. I love Cambodia. I miss it so.
I now remember that it was this man, G that had first planted the idea of a blog in my mind. It's a taken a couple of years to sprout but thank you, G.
And stick around, we can have that adventure, still.