Here comes the end of my great European tour. I am back in Norway, extremely tired and down with flu, I hear it is so typical when you travel within Europe because of the weather changes. “It happens especially when it is spring, even here we all get excited to feel the sun, we dress lightly and before we know it, we have a cold or flu to deal with,” said my friend Tobjorn. Got of lots of stories to tell and wondering where to get an audience. I am therefore going to write a series of my adventures and this is just a glimpse of what you to expect.
I love to travel, but there is one thing I still need to learn, how to pack. With 6 different flights within a week, you can be assured it has not been easy for me, packing and packing, arranging and rearranging my suitcase. But why is it always a hustle for me, will tell you about it!
On landing in Sweden, just by looking around, I still couldn´t tell the difference between Norway and Sweden. Everything seemed so similar, traces of snow, the buildings, the mountains, the infrastructure and the shopping areas. Visibly were shops like H&M, ICA, Vera Moda, Scandic, McDonalds, Din Sko, Scandic Hotel and many more.
One thing I realised it the fact that Stockholm is a bit crowded, and not crowded with Sweds alone, well, with quite a number of foreigners and notably are the Somalis. A friend took me to one of the places, Somali village in Stockholm and was happy to eat spiced Swahili food, reminded me of the restaurants in Mombasa. It was very delicious. Then I was taken to some of the apartments, where the Somalis live.
“Somalis love to live in communities, they have made this their area and as you can see, you will notice it by the satellite dishes they have on every apartment, ” laughed my Kenyan friend.
Survival for the fittest, is it always a cliché? Maybe not, I will tell you about some of the dubious means of survival people in Sweden have invented over time! Interesting, you know, life is not as easy in the diaspora as people imagine.
Visiting different areas in Sweden was awesome, Gamla Stan-the Old City, Kings Garden which is one place Kenyans meet for Nyama Choma in the summer. Ahlens, the meeting point or Kenya Cinema of Sweden. Carrying out my assignment with the people from East Africa, made my stay wonderful.
Then in Germany, it is Spring now, this was one place I got to sight see a lot, the smell of fresh flowers is so welcoming. Quite a number of things reminded me of Norway but it was different, the architecture, the train and the busses, the flat terrain, no traces of snow and the flat view is just spectacular. Loud and noisy Germans, it feels so unlike Norway. Spending my time in Heidelberg, with great friends around me, it was all a perfect match. A 3 hour drive through Bonn, meeting other Kenyans and finally speaking so much Swahili. Mannheim, Weinheim, Vernheim, Rheinneckar Kreis and many more places, it was wonderful.
Oh, did I mention that I gate crushed into a Turkish wedding in Germany? Trust Patience to do this. I am a Kenyan and we adore weddings so much and gate crushing is a normal business. Having been in Norway with no wedding to go to in a span of 8 months, I just couldn´t hold the urge.
“Hey I would love to attend this wedding, can I please come in” I innocently asked a group of three men standing outside the venue, only to realise that one of them was the groom. Ha ha ha ha!! “Sure, you are welcome, we will love to have you around”. I didn´t wanna ask more incase they changed their mind. Will tell you about this, talk of feeling lost and acting a fool, but still being happy that finally here is a wedding for me to attend.
“Patience, when the divorce rate in Norway is at 50 % I am sure you understand why we are not so much into weddings. But Summer time is here, Norwegians do most of their weddings in the summer, maybe you will finally get an invitation,” said a friend. I am still patient!
African´s meeting Point
A walk within Mannheim and I am told I have to see this place. It´s a bar, restaurant and lounge all in one. I am told all Africans living in Mannheim and the nearby cities, all know about it, it is famous for one thing, one Euro. “ The main idea behind this bar is to create a meeting place for Africans and other foreigners to meet and have a good time, however we have abused it, many people come here and spend all their money and time here. “Hapa ndio waafrica wamepotelea,” (This is where the Africans get to destroy their lives from.) “Normaly you will buy a beer from 3 Euros, but here, everything is sold at 1 Euro, it is actually branded 1 Euro. You get all sorts of alcohol, beer, whiskey, wines and spirits, and even human being if you want, I mean everything is at 1 Euro. Jocked a Kenyan friend.” I surely give it a peep and for sure, all I see are Africans and our tour goes on.
Shopping and more late night shopping. I still want more shoes but in this shoe mall, all shoes are so beautiful and unique, one hour later I still do not have a shoe, can you believe it? But I wouldn´t go home without any.
Many more adventures and many more lessons learnt out of this. But one thing leaves me disappointed. Many of these diaspora African brothers and sisters are all in broken relationships and divorced. But why?
“These countries have the welfare of women at heart. They have glorified women and when they come here, they all become big-headed, after all when they divorce or separate the government comes to their rescue. My friend, it is not easy,” said Lee from Kenya and living in Germany.
In Sweden, it is the same story. “The government protects the women, actually this is the order, the Woman, the Child, the Dog and then finally the Man. When you have a slight disagreement which is normal part of life, the say goodbye and call the police before flocking into the social commune for protection. They are then given a house and also a monthly stipend for her and their kids, so a woman doesn´t need a man at all in these countries,” said Thomas, a Ugandan friend.
Explaining my disappointment to the Norwegian colleagues, Henrik from the FK office looks at it from a different point. “ That´s what they will definitely tell you”. “But why,” I ask innocently “ “Just to let you know they are single and available, do you believe them?” Ha ha ha ha we all burst out laughing.
Enjoy your week ahead, and thank you for finding time to read my blog!