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An extract from a new book by M.M. Afrah to be published in Canada in the winter of 2002.

Part Twelve

"You can't trust a corporal with a Charlie Chaplin moustache playing head of state."
"The American people would have laughed if a fortune-telling had predicted that a movie actor was going to be of the United States and would playing an active role in dismantling the Soviet Union. They would have taken away her crystal ball and put her in a straight jacket."
"Well, at least Ronald Reagan kept his campaign promise whereas corporal failed to keep all of Europe and the Soviet Union under his jackboots. As for uncle Joe Stalin, he simply thrived on chaos and mayhem to stay in power after Lenin's demise. People were brainwashed, hypnotized and programmed to toe his line," the Russian said.

After another swig from the bottle and a hiccup, he said Uncle Joe Stalin and Adolf Hitler tried to outdo each other in slaughtering millions of people they considered as untermensch or subhuman and enemies of the state, while the West stood by and did nothing. They even rejoiced at his Anschluss with tiny Austria and his invasion of Poland."
"The Western leaders, notably Neville Chamberlain, believed that nazi Germany was deterrent against Communism. Or perhaps they were considering joining into the fray," Keynaan suggested. "Also Hitler must have impressed them with his drang nach ostern policy." Keynaan added.

"And now the western media is accusing us of gunrunning in Africa. We would not need allies or Noah's Ark to survive in hell. They had even coined the phrase "The Russian Mafia and Money Laundering." The other day, the British tabloids in their front pages called us the New Red Mercenaries in Africa."

"The West brought disease, guns and Christianity in Africa and claimed that they were helping us adopt their brand of civilization," Keynaan said.

"I can't believe the things the papers are printing about Africa," the Russian said and staggered towards the cockpit with his empty bottle upside down. He was sporting hand-tooled San Antonio boots, Levi jeans, Nike jersey and Gucci wrist watch.

"That Russian terrifies me," his sister said.

"You're wrong, Marian," said Keynaan confidently. "Ivan is quite harmless, trying to survive under very difficult circumstances. Or merely restless and disastified with the terms of existence." Because Marian's agitation struck him as funny, he gave low chuckle. "Any way, we are out of harm's way for the moment." He soothed her.

The Topolev began to roar and shudder above the treacherous Indian Ocean as if in turbulence. But Keynaan is wondering how the boys would find themselves among boys with long hair and girls with short hair. Would they wear ear-rings and oversized pants? Would they forget their language and way of life? How is he going to deal with the stony faced immigration officials about the family's resettlement in Canada? Which transports him back to his raw deal with Canada Immigration after living in legal limbo for over five years. This is what went between Keynaan and the immigration officials at both ends of the phone line:

"Welcome to Canada Immigration. For information in English press one, for service in French press two."

There was a trace of Russian accents (probably a new immigrant who had arrived little while ago.)

"For citizenship press three, for sponsoring a relative abroad press four. For application for residence permit press five. Our lines are busy right now. Please wait for the next available official."


"Hi! I am Natasha speaking. How may I help you?"

Keynaan: "Oh, I would like to know the status of my application for a permanent residence in Canada. My client number is…."

Natasha: "What is your country of birth?"

Keynaan: "Somalia."

Natasha: "Let me find that one in my computer. The program is moving, kind of slow today, eh. Hmm. It's warming up, eh. I don't get any Somalia. Let me try something else. You hold on. Okay?" she said in heavily accented English, but otherwise perfect English. Her voice made the English words sound like music.

Whitney Houston is singing "I will always love you."

Natasha: "Hi! Sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you enjoyed Whitney. But where is Somalia?"

Keynaan: "In East Africa, specifically in the Horn of Africa."

Natasha: "Are you sure it is not Samoa or Solomon Islands?"

Keynaan: "I am very sure it is in the Horn of Africa. It has dominated the world news for quite some times when the American Marines and Army Rangers stormed our beaches to spearhead Operation Restore Hope. There was a marathon Somalia Inquiry in Ottawa for a very long time about the Royal Canadian Airborne Regiment in a town called Belet-weyne and the official cover up that followed. There was daily press coverage on the subject. You guys should know."

Natasha: Hold on for a moment, please."

Celine Dione is singing "All is coming back to me now."

Natasha: "How do you spell that?"

Keynaan: "What?" Natasha: "The name of your country."

Keynaan: "S-O-M-A-L-I-A"

Natasha: "Hold on."

Madonna is singing, "Don't cry for me, Argentina."

Natasha: "Are you still there?"

Keynaan: "Yes, I am." Natasha: "Sorry, there is no Somalia in my computer."

Keynaan: "Somalia still exists. I know because I came from there. There are people still living there and it is still in the Atlas. I can assure you."

Natasha: "Well, I don't know."

Keynaan: "You can even buy a phone card from the Chinese corner store here and call Somalia, where people own Ericsson or Nokia cell phones despite the anarchy and carnage. It is much cheaper to call Russia or Ukraine."

Natasha: "Hi again. Well, I'm sorry I can't find Somalia or your name in my computer. Boob! BOOOB! Hold on while I ask Bob here."

Tracy Chapman sings "Give me one reason why I should stay here."

Natasha: "Sorry, but Bob here doesn't know either. I don't know how to help you."

Keynaan: "Could I speak to your boss?"

Supervisor: "Hi! This is James MacMillan, your Caseworker. Your name and country is in our computers, after all. Your application for a Permanent Residence in Canada is being processed. Good luck and good day!"

When this writer asked Keynaan how he felt about the bureaucratic bottleneck at Canada Immigration, he said: "The information that my application was being processed failed to thrill me. They have been telling me the same story year in and year out for six years. If only the people there knew what they were doing. It is the dialogue of the deaf. Their telephone system and their incompetence could drive a person crazy. It is like wadding into a bowl of spaghetti!" he said.

Ironically, the Somali refugees have been given Convention Refugee Status on arrival in 1990/91, only to be immobilized and kept in legal limbo for years on end. They were unable to find decent jobs because they were not "Landed" refugees, because they lacked what Canadian employers euphemistically call "The Canadian experience" or unable to speak either of the two official languages. Thus, they were forced to live on the shrinking welfare handouts.

Community leaders, refugee advocates and human rights organizations believe that the Somalis have been singled out because of their skin colour. They say refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo and other eastern European countries do not encounter these hurdles.

To be continued.
© By M.M.Afrah 2001 All rights are reserved

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