Article written by Thierry Francis Mbabane, pictures courtesy of Jussi Vierimaa, video by Thierry Francis Mbabane.
Young people living as a minority in Finland create new spaces to communicate with other youth in order to protect democracy.
It was April 2019 that I visited Sibelius Museum in Turku and witnessed the launch of Sahwira Literature Rhythms for the youth. Observing the audience I was quite delighted by a sense of multiculturalism that prevailed in the room: sophisticated afro hairstyles, a harmony of skin colors, folkloric music and dance. It was a commemoration of a successful culture blend from different places of the globe that these young people represented.
I came to learn that when the very same youth met in Turku a few months ago at Sahwira Africa International, an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for immigrants, African, black women and girls in Finland, they were strangers to each other. However, they quickly connected and became one human race, a group of friends to share bright ambitions.
“They want to do community service as a space where to meet and do something together with other youth.” said Professor Adiele Faith, a writer/author and a popular mentor and co-founder of Sahwira Literature Rhythms.
According to Faith, there is an urgency to support ideas that could give space to communication among youth as at the moment we are seeing openness and hear voices we have not heard before. On the other hand, we are seeing real terrifying political backlash from the rise of nationalism and anti immigrants ideology. This kind of new ideas can be a way to contradict the rhetoric about how a multiracial and immigrants would destroy “Finnishness”.
In addition, I wanted to know what is this group of youth planning to do to challenge the status quo.
“Among other activities they can be a combination of art, education and intervention to educate about how could we have a civil society in public shared spaces, and this is important for democracy.” informs Faith about what the youth in Sahwira do.
Faith’s message invites the youth to believe in themselves and influential capacity especially for this group which is so international, multicultural and multiracial, a group that is not influenced by any distinction. She insists that there is an opportunity for such an empowered multicultural youth to create a new model of society using its voice and energy.
It is projected that 60,3% of the Finnish population will have between 16 and 65 of age and 13,5% will have less than 16 by 2030.
The immigration phenomena is now an important factor in today’s social sphere here in Finland.
Source: Migration 2017. Statistics Finland
|FAITH ADIELE (http://adiele.com) has authored two memoirs: Meeting Faith, the PEN Award-winning account of becoming Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun, and The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems. She is writer/narrator/subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. One of Marie Claire magazine’s “5 Women to Learn From,” Faith teaches at California College of the Arts, Stonecoast, the Writers’ Grotto and Left Margin Lit. She lives in Oakland, where she is the founder of African Book Club and the nation’s only writing workshop for travelers of color through VONA/Voices.|
Professor Adiele Faith is a teacher and mentor in SahWira Youth not a co-founder as the article and video mentioned. In November 2018, SahWira Youth project was founded by Faith Mkwesha the executive director of SahWira Africa International.