Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Interview with Vincent representing "Wazalendo Kenya" April 20th

Vincent comes from Kenya, now a Norwegian citizen. He studies comparative politics at the University of Bergen and is an active member of Wazalendo Kenya.

Wazalendo Kenya is one of the member organizations at BIKS. It was funded in 2008, and even though there are not so many Kenyans in Bergen, it is an very active organization that often attracts people that come from other African countries and some Norwegians that often have an association to Africa (been there or married an African). This resume is based on my notes from our talk at Café Kaos.

"Wazalendo (which means patriotic in swahili) is a voluntary organisation based in Bergen and covers the whole of Hordaland province in Norway. It serves not only the interest of Kenyans and other foreigners in Norway but it is also allied to other like-minded organisations in the world. Kindly enjoy and visit us frequently!" (from blog).

Blog: www.wazalendobergen.blogspot.com (since Kenya has 42 languages the blog is in English. English and Swahili are main languages).
Website: www.wazalendobergen.com (not so developed yet)

About Wazalendo
- June 5th big fundraising for project in Kenya making a carecenter for girls/women that are being exposed to, or afraid of being exposed to, forced marriage and forced circumsiscion. There will be concert with African music, small Kenyan shop with Kenyan jewlery, artwork...
- Typical seminar that they organize: about forced marriage, integration of Kenyans in Norway.
- Kenyan childrens BIKS. Normally if they rent the Fensal, then they use it for kids (that cannot attend the evening events) during the day.
- Mostly Africans show up, and information about events in mostly circulated in the African environment in Bergen. However the events are always open to all.
- Organize national day. On national day Africans from other countries join eachothers celebrations.
- This is a chance for youths that are not allowed to "go out on the town" to go to a party and mingle.
- Helping Kenyan newcomers. Go to parties, visit one another, baptisms, birthdays.
- Organized football matches mix African and Norwegian.
- Cooperates sometimes with Kurd girls organization that works with girls in forced marriages.
- Will organize Kenyan national days on October 20th and December 12th with Kenyan musicians that live elsewhere in Europe.
- Only immigrant organization in Bergen that has a website/blog.
- The blog offers help to Kenyans about Norwegian society, advice about house loan, getting a job etc.

About BIKS
- Offers today the best sollution for the immigrant organizations because it is the cheapest place they can rent.
- Fensal (with kitchen) 4000 kr for one night, or 7500-8000 including music, extra guards etc.
- Rent is a lot when one organization maybe has as little as 6000 kr for support a year form municipality.
- Fensal max 250 people (1st floor)
- Smaller space at 3rd floor max 100 people (2000 kr), but cannot be used if Fensal is used because fire requierments don't allow more than 250 people in the entire building.
- The bord consists of 8-10 people from the member organizations.
- Every year at the general assembly half of the bord members are renewed by election
- All BIKS members are members of Hordaland Common Immigration Counsil (Felles innvandrerråd, Hordaland) www.dfirh.no
- The DFIRH chooses 3 permanent members of the BIKS bord.
- Vincent was last year chosen to be on the bord of DFIRH.
- Is also used for wedding parties, because cheapest place in town - othervice must rent school gym or something outside of city.
- Other places are very expensive, typically bars that charge many times BIKS + wants payment for drinks.
- BIKS lacks good way of getting out information on events and a good renovation.
- Norwegian don't know where BIKS is located, only immigrants know that.
- Nothing shows images from previous events (also on webpage there is nothing like this).
- No archive of events.
- Today there is a calender with all dates and the first one gets to get an event on the date he wants.
- There is no arena for the organizations to show themselves, give information about their existence and events.
- He has met Kenyans that have lived in Bergen for two years without knowing there was a Kenyan organization.

Dream location with unlimited budget
- Big concert room for atleast 200 people.
- Room for seminares that offer projector.
- Café with food from different places.
- Maybe could be run by voluntares.
- Wants office space for active organizations. Could share, each organization could have a locker for their stash.
- To have a person hired for just web, getting out information about what is on etc.
- A good archive.
- A place to display images from previous events.

About immigrant organizations
- Registered organizations get support from the municipality/government based on member number.
- However minimum is 6000 kr/year for under 100 members.
- This is the case of 90% of the Hordaland immigrant organizations
- It costs a lot just to run a website. A lot of work is voluntary.
- Some organizations are more closed, such as Etiopian and Somalian, they often don't invite others to their events.
- Vincent is surprised because Etiopians are so open in their home country, but here not.

About being immigrant
- Most difficult is the language. Language school used to be free, but is now only for refugees and kids under 16 years old.
- Many immigrants don't have a network to practice Norwegian.
- Difficulties getting a job.
- Most immigrants Vincent knows has somewhat lower education that the average Norwegian, but most have atleast high school.
- Their high school however is many times not valid in Norway.
- Many immigrants are afraid not to get a job in Norway doing what they are educated with.
- Stigmatization in the media
- www.imds.no - immigrant statistics; negative information in the media, Norwegians thoughts on immigrants...
- Stigmatization with authorities.
- Kenyans with Kenyan passport, but Norwegian recidency, always get stopped and brought "to the small room" to be interogated when they travel.
- Example when Vincent recently came back from trip in Kenya with his Norwegian passport and was asked suspiciously in Amsterdam where he was going (even though his ticket to Norway was also presented) "I'm going home" he said. In a security check further on he was asked the same question, asked in Norwegian by the police officer that apparently spoke a little Norwegian. He replied to her the same thing "Jeg skal hjem".
- Vincent was always stopped at Flesland when he had long dreadlocks (which also also happend to me when I had dreadlocks)
- He is still worried to be taken into "the little room", though it has not happened after he cut his dreads and got Norwegian passport.
- When do you stop being an immigrant? Vincent answers: when you are doing good things for the Norwegian society. If you are really good at sports, winning a gold medal in running for Norway, that sort of things. As soon as you do something that is not good - like stealing - you are not Norwegian, you are immigrant, however long you have lived in Norway.

Immigrant is what Norwegians label you - I personally don't feel like an immigrant - feel Norwegian!

About integration
- The refugee that didn't choose Norway
- If they come from former English colony they would have preferred England because of knowleadge of the language would ease integration.
- Many that have been here for more than 20 years still say they would like to return if they could.
- For instance Somalians, that have a strickt Muslim culture are many times sceptic to the Norwegian way, rules and freedom.
- Children of immigrants are more easily integrated and don't want to return to their parents homeland.
- For instance they get used to a certain material standard.
- Vincent thinks that many Norwegians are open and curious to meet immigrants, but the immigrants themselves must be more active - participate.

Also I got to sound record Vincent when he was telling a traditional Kenyan story in Swahili, that I plan to use in a sound installation.


vibeke jensen said...

wow, great! sounds like you had a really good and relevant conversation, and got a nice sound track :) be proactive w/the program thinking!

Post a Comment

Copyright © Suchness
Blogger Theme by BloggerThemes Design by Diovo.com