You are on page 1of 10

Experience of Africans in Europe

Naomis case

Festive season of Christmas is over and January has come. With passport, visa and all travelling
documents at hand, Naomi is ready for her trip. Excited to meet her new boyfriend in family reunion and the dream of a better life still fresh in her mind, she cant wait to jump into that plane to
go to Europe. It is 17.45 when the pilot announces the welcoming message to the passengers, telling
them the duration of flight and the weather. Then the flight attendants demonstrate the safety
procedures. Given that it was the first time for Naomi to fly and thus had never used a seat belt, she
request for help from the attendant who helps her smiling.

At 10.00 the plane lands in Stockholm and Naomi gets her first shock. Its in the middle of winter in
January and the temperatures are -150c with snow everywhere and freezing cold for her. Even
though she had been informed of the extreme temperatures during winter, she didnt anticipate that
it could have been this cold. They take a ride to a tiny flat in town where the boyfriend leaves her
and promises to come back after work. Food is ready and Naomi is told to feel free and eat anything
she wants. Surprised at the turn of events, Naomi asks So when will you be back because itd be
nice to see your town a bit? to which Mr Sweden answers with a frown on the face In Kenya, I
was on holiday. Here in Europe people work so Ill be back when done with my work. Perplexed
with the look on the face and the stern voice, Naomi tries to cool tempers down and asks in a low
and soft tone Are you happy to see me? Realizing the change of tone, Mr Sweden comes close to
Naomi, hugs her and says sweetie I am happy to see you but I really have to go to work. Ill catch
up with you soon. With nothing more to say or do, she finally asks for a towel to take a shower and
feigns tiredness that she needs to get some sleep after the long, tiring trip.

Hours turned into days and Mr. Sweden was still nowhere to be seen. The house feels empty for
Naomi and she starts to be scared. With no phone, nobody she knows in town and no keys to get in
if she gets out, she succumbs to her condition and tries to entertain herself by watching TV and
spending most of the time reading her magazines which she brought along. Food is in plenty as she
carried some from home to share with the lovely one. Being a lady who has gone through many
hard times and has lived in the city, she switches on her survival for the fitness mode of operation.
Ting ting, the door bell rings. Scared to open, she reduces the TV volume and looks for a place to
hide. However, the door soon bangs open and there comes Mr Sweden.

There is an awe of uneasiness in the air. Not knowing whether to smile, scream, run or hit the guy,
Naomi finds herself stuck where she was standing as if nailed to the ground. The legs got heavy and
however much she tried to say something, the words couldnt come out. She thus decided to stay
put and stare at the boyfriend straight in the eye waiting for an explanation. Sorry dear started the
boyfriend as he moved towards Naomi, have a sit and Ill explain everything. Burning with rage,
she took a sit on the opposite chair to the boyfriend and with determined voice said go ahead
Mister! What is it? With this kind of determination and tense atmosphere, it was difficult even for
Mr Sweden to start explaining anything. He cleared his voice, shook his head and raised his arms as
if to say something but nothing came. Looking at Naomi, he finally got the courage to try to explain
what he wanted to explain. I went to work in a grocery down the street. After my work I left for
town to go and contact the guy who is organizing the job for you... At this juncture the voice
started shaking and Naomi got more concerned, excited and worried at the same time. So she
moved closer and wrapped her arms around him sweetie, what happened? Tell me please.

The news that came is not what Naomi had expected. She got even more confused as she tried to
dig for more details, so are we going to get the job or are we in trouble? was the last question she
could ask. Sensing the pain in Mr. Swedens face she decided to use her wit and play the role of a
loving girlfriend. She took him by the hands and dragged her to the kitchen where there were all
sorts of delicacies already made. Here darling, take this she said as she handed him a plate serve
yourself whatever you want. I made them for us. Surprised by the attitude Naomi took, he took the
plate and placed it on the table, then she turned to her, held her tight and kissed her gently then said
thank you darling as he turned to serve the food. The food was delicious by all standards and with
the belly full they moved to the sitting room where he inquired about Naomis trip. After some
conversation, they left for town to see different shopping malls and show Naomi a little bit of the
night life in town.

Happy as a couple, things went well together for the first one week. Mr Sweden went to work and
came back as usual on time. However, things took a different turn on the second week. Mr Sweden
started becoming more and more distant and reserved. Quite often he came home drunk and
sometimes could stay even for a whole week without informing Naomi of his whereabouts. With the
little money Naomi had, she managed to buy a phone and a sim card just in order to contact people
back home or send a message to see how they are doing. The trend went for a while until it reached
a point where she couldnt take it anymore. One evening when Mr Sweden came back drunk,
Naomi rose up, angry and disappointed she asked What the hell is wrong with you? This is not

what we were supposed to be doing. The guy frowned, got pissed off and hit the wall with all the
energy he had and then mumbled something. He then tried to walk past her to the bedroom.
Determined to know her future prospects and not giving up anymore, the fight ensued. You are not
going to sleep before you answer my question!! She started as she blocked the pathway and you
better take a shower before you can go the bed. Still angry at all the orders coming to him and
feeling drunk and tired he banged the door and walked out. He was not to be seen again for another
two weeks.

In the mean time, Naomi, having the keys and phone started walking around town on her own
looking for places. Even though she didnt understand the language, she managed by drawing the
paths she took and tried to remember roughly the buildings around her. This went on for days until
she finally knew how to get her way along. One problem persisted still though, how to buy
groceries for the names of the foodstuffs were in Swedish and packed differently from what she was
used to back at home. She however managed to buy few things like eggs, milk and bread and
survived on them. Having no friends, life started becoming difficult for her as there was now
nobody to turn to. She started going to night clubs and social places with the hope of meeting
somebody who could know any Kenyan or Africans around. As luck would have it, one fateful day
when sitting lonely and having a beer, she had some people speaking in Swahili. Relieved she went
and asked if she could join them and have a discussion. They welcomed her warmly to their table
and even offered her a drink as she joined.

As they continued drinking, one of the vocal guys called Moses asked Naomi excuse me sister,
what is your name, where are you from, and what brings you to Sweden? This sounded a bit
strange for Naomi to get three questions coming at a time and even before enjoying the
conversations. However, she replied my name is Naomi, Im from Kenya and came to Sweden to
meet a friend. Moses was not going to let it go easily even though his friends by seeing the pain in
Naomis face tried to restrict him from asking too many questions and let the sister enjoy her drink
and their company. So where is your friend? he asked again Is the friend male or female?
Naomi was now getting uneasy since she didnt want to talk about the whole issue and on the other
hand he just met the strangers. In her charming wit and throwing a warm smile she simply said it is
a long story

Moses finally kept quiet and dashed to the counter to offer them more drinks. On coming back
Naomi started telling them her story you have been nice people to me so far and I feel comfortable

around you. Given that you are from Kenya as me and we speak the same language, I can tell you
what happened. She took a zip from her glass and looked at Moses smiling so Moses, how long
have been living here in Sweden? Caught unawares with the question, he chocked from the drink
in the mouth and put the glass down. He wiped his mouth with the back of his palm and simply said
almost 10 years. Naomi then started by telling them how he met the guy in Nairobi when she was
working in the hotel as a receptionist. All the good things and promises the guy had given her and
what she has been going through since she arrived. The story was so moving that at some point the
guys felt like crying. They looked at her and said sorry siz you must have been duped.

It was getting late and Naomi excused herself that she had to go home. They exchanged telephone
numbers, hugged and bade each other farewell promising to call as soon as possible. That night she
couldnt get to sleep. She watched different channels from the television but couldnt concentrate
that much. She looked at the walls as if in prayers for divine intervention. Remembering all the
good things and the parties that they had in Nairobi before her trip and the promises she had given
her friends back at home, she broke down to tears and cried Help me please God. What do I do
now? As if waiting for an answer, she relaxed herself, went to bed and lay down on her back.
However, as she was still pondering, she fell asleep and woke up to find it was morning.

Moses and Naomi became good friends and in most occasions they kept contact and met almost
every day. He was a gentleman and explained to her the repercussions of living in Europe. One day
as they were sitting at Naomis place he said Listen sister, you are a nice person but youve been
lied to. Ive lived here long enough and what you were told isnt true. Pondering on what to say
next, he looked at her once more and asked What level of education do you have? Naomi was
now more comfortable and relaxed around Moses, as she rose up she said wait, Ill show you. She
went to her bag and came back with a bunch of papers here look at these ones she said as she
extended the papers to him. After scrutinizing the papers for a while Moses shook his head and said
well this is good for a start but not good enough. Terrified she asked whats wrong with them to
which Moses replied you have only high school certificates and thus its a bit difficult to get you a
decent job.

Weeks went by without any single word or knowledge of Mr. Sweden. Naomi decided to move
from the place in fear of his return and moved in with Moses with whom they now shared a
common bond. Moses introduced her to his friends and they embarked on a job hunt for her. It took
many months before Naomi could get even a cleaning job but she was still determined to get a job

and at least make her dreams come true on her own. She was now smarter, not having too many
expectations anymore but ready to live from the little shell get as she was far away from home and
could not depend on charity from Moses all the time.

It was a bright Monday morning as they were sleeping when Moses received a call. He looked at it
wondering whether to answer it or not, finally Naomi said jokingly cmon go ahead and pick your
phone. I dont mind even if it is one of your ladies. Hallo he answered who is this? to date
nobody knows what he was told but he jumped off the bed, excited and racing around the room
back and forth all the time just saying thank you....thanks a lot man! Upon finishing with his
phone call he ran back to the bedroom, pushed the door with a bang as he danced and still holding
the phone tight in the hand. Naomi curious about what this could be rose up and sat down staring at
Moses who couldnt say anything yet but just kept dancing. What is it now sweetie? she asked.
Still struggling to control his breath, he answered I have got good news for you!! Then like a thud
the words came from his mouth Youve gotten a job. They jumped, shouted and raced in the
house dancing, not to any music but to their joy. The rest of the day Moses spent explaining to her
the nature of jobs available. He explained that it is better she got a job in a warehouse because they
pay better and have longer hours than in the cleaning or dish washing jobs.

Everything was arranged in advance and put in order before Naomi could be taken to her new
working place. She did not know what really waited for her because she had never been to a
warehouse before and didnt know what is done there. However, since the boss was a very good
friend of Moses and understood the circumstances surrounding Naomis situation, he took his time
to explain in details what her task will be. The first day went fine since it was only short orientation
day to explain what is to be done and show her around the place. However, the days to come started
being a nightmare. She had to work in different shifts and sometimes even in the night. One week
went by, second and third week followed; when it came to fourth week Naomi started missing

They went for a drink together and met many more friends. They went for a dance in one club in
restaurant where I happened to be that night as I was in Stockholm. Moses came running to me and
asked what are you doing here man? I just told her that Im on holiday and decided to take a ferry
to Sweden and relax for some few days. I spotted Naomi who was staring at me with mouth agape
in disbelief. Not sure if weve met, she asked Moses my name and stared at me again. After getting
my name, she returned to me and asked arent you the same guy we met in Nairobi? I answered in

the affirmative, she looked at me again angry and mostly disappointed and ashamed not at me but at
her behaviour towards me when we first met. She came to me and deeply apologetically said Im
really sorry. Not knowing why she was sorry, I just turned to her and said its ok, where is your
mzungu? Moses then cut me short and said man things arent that cool, lets drink and Ill tell you
the story later.
The night party went nice with a lot of drinks and stories to tell. Later on before leaving the club,
Naomi pulled me aside and asked why didnt you warn me? Why didnt you tell me that you live
in Europe and know this many people? I was stranded as I did not understand what had transpired
and why change of heart and all the warmth. That is when she took a handkerchief from her bag and
blew her nose as she started sobbing. Sorry I didnt know that Europe is this difficult, I really miss
home. I sympathised with her sorrow as she narrated to me what had happened and what she was
going through. I couldnt say much since she was already too hurt and adding salt to the wounds
wouldnt have been fare. I put my arm around her and as we walked around I explained to her why I
took low profile when we met. Finally before parting our ways I gave her my Finnish number and
said welcome to Europe, call me when you are in Helsinki. She smiled broadly and in her
charismatic joking voice shouted see you village boy!!

It was November 2001 when after having a nice dinner at home with my girlfriend and my sister
who had just arrived from Kenya we decided to go to a club called Viva in Helsinki. On the way, as
we advanced towards the club, I told my girlfriend to go ahead of us as there is a doorman who is a
racist and doesnt easily allow foreigners of African origin in easily. He could look for any excuse
from you are drunk, your eyes are red or the person in the id is not yours, sometimes he would
claim that the night is only for VIP members. Many people complained against his decisions and
there is a time the police was called to see for themselves the treatment but all they could say was
there are many clubs, if you cant get in here just go to the next one. The bouncer used to wear a
white shirt with a box kind of body and was well known and much disliked by many Africans.

Luckily on this fateful day, the bouncer at the door was a friendly one who didnt discriminate; he
handled his job professionally. Once we got in we agreed that I keep my cloakroom jacket and the
ladies keep theirs since they were to leave for home before me. At the cloakroom, we met the
bouncer who doesnt like the blacks, I gave him my jacket and then handed him the other two
jackets and asked him to put them separately. When he came back he gave me the first ticket saying
this is the one with the two jackets as I gave it to my girlfriend to keep it he handed me the other
one saying this is the one for one jacket. I took it and kept it on my pocket as I gestured to the

ladies that we go upstairs to listen to better music. Downstairs just close to the cloakroom they were
playing loud techno music where as upstairs they played nice hip hop, reggae and raga tone.

Some few minutes after 01.10, my girlfriend came to inform me that they are leaving for home
since they are tired and ask me if I want to join them or stay with friends and go home later, to
which I said just go ahead Ill come with the next bus. As I was still talking to my friends in the
club, my girlfriend came back again and asked me to the cloakroom that there was some problem
with the jackets. When I went there, the guy I met couldnt speak too good English, coupled with
the loud noise of the disco, he couldnt understand what I was saying. So he called the other
bouncer who spoke better English to come and handle our case. At that instance, I turned to face my
girlfriend in order to ask her to come and translate what I was saying in Finnish. No sooner had I
turned than I heard a shout and a jump towards me puhu Suomea perkele which in English means
Speak English you devil The next thing is that I woke up and found myself lying helplessly on the
ground with my sister and girlfriend crying and perplexed Finns looking at me. When I got up,
everyone felt a sigh of relief for I was unconscious for some time and they thought I was dead.

We went out, called the police as is usually the case in scenes of crime. However, given that I was a
foreigner and speaking in English, they refused to come and instead ordered me to report to their
office the following day to file a report if I want to press charges. I went back to the club and asked
the bouncer at the door to take me to the one who strangled me so that I could get his full name for
the police records. Upon hearing that Id called the police, he ran into hiding and refused to come
out. So the bouncer at the door who was the workmate gave wrote me the full name of the racist
bouncer and his own name for confirmation if need there be. The night was spoilt both to my sister
and my girlfriend who were still tongue tied at the necessity of that action. However, I was more
disappointed and shamed to be humiliated like that in front of my young sister and girlfriend.

Came the following day, we left very early for the police station to report the matter since I had to
travel to Kenya for my holidays, I wrote my statement first, followed by my girlfriend and my
sister. After writing my statement, I requested the police if they could go to the club, which was just
stone throw away from their office to re-examine the video in order to establish the facts and get
more evidence. I even gave them the exact time interval so that they dont have to waste to much
time searching for what happened. This they declined to do claiming that the security camera in the
club doesnt record events. With nothing much to say or do, we left for town to do my last shopping
before going home to pack for my trip.

It is 2003 when the case comes to court. My initial lawyer is in maternity leave and I am a signed a
new junior lawyer. First the defence lawyer insists that both the suspect he is representing and their
witness both be sworn in as suspects since the body description as given in the 2001 police is
confusing. A fact I strongly objected to my lawyer and asked him to refuse the trick since I can
positively identify the man by face. My lawyer sitting there and just shaking refused and said it is
not necessary. I got disappointed at that move since witnesses are not allow to stay in the courtroom
except when called. This helps to cross- check whether there statements are coherent with the
victims or suspects. However being suspects they both were allowed to sit in the hall and thus
could easily repeat what the other had said without a fuss or sweat. We all gave our parts of the
stories and questions were asked. We were both cross-examined to verify our statement. However,
something very funny happened, I insisted that the bouncer who strangled me was behind the desk
and jump over it. When asked, Were you behind or in front of the desk? He could not remember
and his witness also could not remember where he was from when he came to attack me. This
perplexed everybody in the court. The other issue was that in normal circumstances, if someone is
making noise or disturbing in the club, the bouncer guides him out of the club; if he is too stubborn
is when little force can be used in order to get him out of the premises and then call the police. None
of these were done, I wasnt escorted out of the club but simply strangled and left there to die or
whatever could have followed. When asked why he couldnt escort me out he simply replied I
dont remember.

With all the evidence adduced to the court, the prosecutor and the assisting judges in their final
verdict found the accused guilty as charged and gave grounds for their decision. The presiding
judge refused to make any judgement immediately and we had to wait for another one month for the
judgement to come. When the judgement came, the bouncer was acquitted of any wrong doing;
grounds for acquisition: Our statements cannot be trusted since my we had ties with the witnesses.
The question which I still ask myself till today is : Why didnt the police come to the scene when I
called since there were many people who were ready to be witnesses? Why didnt the police in the
preliminary investigation go and observe the security camera in order to see what actually
transpired? How can two bouncers working doing the same things words be trusted? Why didnt the
court realize that their statements in court didnt match the previous ones given in police station? Is
this justice or is it pure racism from those who could be providing justice?

This reminds me of another episode of a scholar who married a Finnish lady who was somehow

well connected in the society. They had a baby boy together and after that they divorced and stayed
apart. According to the Finnish regulations the parents can have either joint custody or the mother is
given single custody. However, the child stays with the mother but both the parents should have
equal visiting rights depending on the age of the child and at the age of 13 then the child can decide
which of the parents to stay with. Irrespective of the agreement which was made and was binding,
whenever the scholar took the child, the social workers and the police came to harass him on the
grounds that he is trying to snatch the boy out of the country. The next count was that he is abusing
the son. He went to court in Finland and appealed even to the highest court in the land but his
appeal fell on deaf ears. Given the determination of the father and the psychological torture the son
was undergoing since he loved the father and couldnt understand why he could not be with the
father, the case was taken to the Hague for determination. At the Hague the judges found out that
the judges all erred in their judgement and this was after the son himself was allowed to be brought
to court to testify in the case. The question is in whose interest were the judges, social workers and
the police working? The child, the mother or the father?

Many immigrants of African origin living in Finland will testify to the fact that racism is highly
institutionalised in Finland. Walking along any street in Finland, most Africans would meet the
words like apina (Monkey), neekkeri(nigger). It is common if these words came from the
ordinary people without any knowledge or exposure. However, suffice to say some of these words
followed by action come from the very people who are entrusted with the task of protecting the
people. I remember an incident where a friend of mine had some problems and stopped a police car
on the road. After explaining his grievances the officer simply looked at him and said I made an
oath to protect my people, are you one of them?? The friend was tongue-tied and thus simply
walked away.

On the other hand, we should also understand the Finns. Most of the African immigrants who come
with high expectations tend not to respect the law and order of the society after failing to achieve
their goals. Most of these immigrants tend to undermine the Finns and treat them like second class
citizens even though they are in their own countries. One day after work, I went to sit with my
friends in a park called Kaisaniemi, on my way I came across some African immigrants. As is our
norm, I said hi to them and was about to continue walking when one of them asked me Excuse me
broad, where are you from?? Jokingly I replied from work? He looked at his friends and looked
at me again and said look at this one-o, na ask him where from and na tell me wok at this juncture
I chipped in and said Im from Kenya. He looked at me again and said Are you a student-o?

when I told him I was a student, I could see the look on his face. He was kind of disappointed or
somehow felt pity for me. He moved a bit far away from me and then said you Kenyan boys, you
dont know how to make money. You come here then study, study and study. Get a woman-o, make
babies and get papers. Then after that youll make money. I was quite surprised by this mentality.