Amiir and Family: Somalis in Norway

The story, in cartoons, of Amiir, a Somali immigrant to Norway, and his family. Amiir had graduated from Mogadishu University with a degree in literature and married Cawo, a fellow student. They had two children, and a bright future - until the war began in 1991. They had to flee, and ended up in snowy Norway. Amiir got work in a cafe. Cawo became a clearner. But things got better, and they had three more children . They encouraged them to embrace Norwegian culture.
But Amiir wanted his children to share his own Somali culture. so last year, when the security situation improved, he took them for a visit. Amiir's brother met them at the airport and drove them to meet the children's grandmother.
The family was enchanted by the stars in Somalia. But they could not use the toilet - a hole in the ground. They didn't like the look of the produce in the market. Amiir's mother snapped and accused the children of being spoiled. "You are not true Somali!" she cried. Cawo, Amiir's wife, offered to take them back to Norway. Amiir drove his family back to the airport in silence. But at the last minute, his eldest daughter, Cadey, said she would stay.
For two weeks, Amiir showed Cadey the haunts of his youth - telling tales, sharing food, singing Somali songs. Some things were still difficult for her - but by the end of the trip she had won her grandmother round. The parting was tearful. Afterwards, Amiir had to recognise that whether his children were Somali or Norwegian, their home was Norway. For a while he felt as though he had made a great mistake raising them in this way. But three weeks later, as Cadey graduated from university, he felt so proud that he realised it didn't matter. Norwegian or Somali, they will always be his children.

Amiir's story was told to journalist Benjamin Dix and drawn by artist Lindsay Pollock, from the collection Meet the Somalis by the Open Society Foundations.

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