My sister Amal is truly the light of my life. Although she is 12 years younger than I, she has taught me how to love and cherish living. On most days she's is the silver lining to my life. I started taking pictures right around the time she was 3 years old.
The day after I graduated from college, I boarded a plane to Northern Somalia. The move was not anticipated, but rather accepted, as if I simply traded one country for another. I teach geography to children. Pointing to a globe, I say “Hello, I’m A——-, and I’m from Minnesota. America.” I trace the ocean with my finger: I was there; now I’m here. “Minnesota has a lot of lakes.” I don’t pretend to be more than I am.
A couple of months ago we were blown away by the first episode of the Visual Wisdom Project – a 10-part series of short films where people share stories of someone or something that has inspired them.
The mother of my mother. Keeper with the memory of her history, our history. Thoughts spanning generations, over nine decades. Thoughts traveling through time in order to weave stories.
The phrase “too western for the east and too eastern for the west” resonates with children of the Somali diaspora on many levels. It speaks to our struggles relating to language, religion, pride, shame, culture, and ethnicity.
I. Thou shalt love aniga by any means necessary.
”Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.” – Audre Lorde
You were born in times of tragedy and all you’ve ever wanted to do with your life was stretch your arms out so wide, your love could reach everyone.
Present Day: I remember my childhood in fragmented pieces, with no distinction between the present and past. In the same way one experiences trauma, my narrative is created in a such a way that does not follow a traditional storyline. Perhaps the seemingly confused temporality of my narrative is a reflection of my own psyche.
Flights have never felt so tedious. Just in the year alone you boarded four planes. On the 45 minute flight from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur you were in the window seat of a three seat row when an elderly Malay woman sat next to you. Bright pink baju kurung with matching tudung, she turned her head and said her salaams, asked you “Where is home?”
nafyahay wanaag baad ku weynaatay wa waajib inaad waya aragta
once an old man kissed me on the forehead because he’d loved my grandfather. my grandmother loved my grandfather. even as she buried her first child alone, even as he continuously left her to warm another wife’s bed, she loved him with heart and arms wide open.
We learn how strong the women in my family are when the men they love leave one day and they are forced to hold everything up, all on their own. My mother has had many conversations with my aunt and each one sounds like, ‘You are my sister. I am not letting you fall apart’.
I went back to Odense/Denmark this summer to remind myself how much I've grown. It is a quiet city to most people. To many in my family who have left and moved on it is a place where you are forgotten.
Our first IG crush is Halima Jama who is a documentary photographer based in Toronto. Intimacy bleeds from Halima’s work. Inspired by her father’s life journey, she says her photographs are an authentic glimpse into her soul.
this defining of beauty in a euro-centric light has pillaged,
robbed, massacred any sense of esteem. any form of light in the eye of many a black girl.
she watches the al jazeera programme where the woman inside the television says, now that i am lighter all the men look at me. empty room. she sniggers. externalises dissatisfaction of how her own human anatomy parallels.
my mom didn’t feel like going to work today so she decided to work from home. i was doing the dishes and she was typing away on her laptop when she brought up a lady we both know. she said, “i told farxiyo she should leave him, and she said if i left him where would i go?”