To be African is to be ‘illegal’. Even in Africa.
What happens when we make people illegal? What is it to determine a certain space of humanity exists outside the law and, thus, must be dealt with outside the law? I keep thinking about the term “illegal immmigrants” and the dehumanization that it brings about. As if somehow there is a space where we can move people and do to them as we will.
There’s another word that does a lot of damage. Another word that takes, creates, segregates and decides who is human and who isn’t. I’ve written about this before. In thought begets thought, I wrote:
Forget the fact that most of the Kenyan born Somalis, Indians etc have been here for generations. Forget the fact that most other tribes didn’t even originate here. Forget the fact that, if you go for back, we all moved into this land at some point. We assume that, in according other communities the right to exist we are doing them a favour. We aren’t. We’re being human.
The words “Muslim” and “terrorist” are not synonyms.
Still, the police invade Eastleigh and drag off a thousand people.
I tried counting to a thousand when I was in primary school. I could never get past 120. There was always something more pressing to do.
One… two… three… four… soccer ball
One… two… three… four… story book.
A thousand was the unreachable number, it was unimaginable in its magnitude.
One thousand people were arrested and thrown into a cage.
In ‘Something Else, Not Violence’ Keguro Macharia writes :
“…because I come to Eastleigh—and Somalis via Eastleigh—through the culture-bridging practices demonstrated by my father’s practice, practices that made palpable the ethics of care, emphasizing collectivity-making as a desire for others to thrive, I am struggling to understand how Eastleigh—and Somalis via Eastleigh—has become available for genocidal imaginations.”
I’m worried about how the words ‘terrorist,’ ‘immigrant,’ ‘Somali’ ‘security’ and ‘peace’ open up the imaginations of many to death. Words continue to grow and attach meaning too themselves. Words continue to move, breath and stick in places where they do not need to be stuck.
I remain with three words “one thousand people.”
I begin to count.