Intensive meetings

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At the aftermath of media convulsion at home, our day continued with exchange of ideas and study of  the new education act. It was difficult to forget what was going on at home. It crossed my mind that perhaps people from Sundsvall should not leave the municipality. Bearing in mind that the only newspaper in town spares no ink on critizing the newly started this SiDA financed cooperation project. Same press that kept quiet when previous mayors did not even bother to leave municipal boundaries to create good relationship at regional level. Rather stay at home, seems to be the motto. 

For our part we do our tasks for the benefit of our town and country to the best of our ability. Thanks Ina Skandevall and Hans Zetterkvist for your commitment. 

The day business was comprehensive. The leaders of Makkunduchi gathered and an introduction to the history of the island was presented by former chief minister for Zanzibar Mr. Shamsi Vuai Nahodha. The topic of development targets, was described in a context of education. Skills needed were many for the young people of Zanzibar and vocational courses were referred to. Next week’s visit of principal Mr. Trevor Fisher, heading restaurant school might lead to interesting development within tourist related professions.

Questions were asked and participants discussed what the responsibilities of local government were and ought to be, taking into account that there is no real method for local financing. After that discussions continued with the reduced number of members of the committee getting into more limited and concrete ideas for cooperation between our two local authorities. 

Mrs Christin Strömberg met a number of bee keepers. Bee keeping being a possible development area in Makunduchi.

Tomorrow is Sunday and we have a day off which we will use for a visit  at the capital of Zanzibar- Stone town.

Living like kings? 


According to right wing Sundsvall politician Elin Nilsson we are living like kings in Makunduchi.  Well, everything is, of course,  relative and I have small means to compare quality of hotels here on Zanzibar. If we compare with Sweden the standard of the hotel is not high.I have in my life stayed in luxury hotels. La Madrugada is not among them. It is also the hotel where our Swedish students and teachers stay when they come to Makunduchi. But what would Elin Nilsson know about that? By allowing herself to get elected to the steering committee by the municipal assembly one would have thought that she had some sort of a commitment to this type of work. But then again I was wrong…The reason why she chose not to travel here has obviously different versions, depending on the receiving end.

The electricity is now back after being down three times this evening.

Zanzibar is beautiful. Wherever we are  along this island’s coasts. ..But people are extremely poor. The effort needed to raise living standards bring us back many years in the Swedish perspective. Yesterday we were invited for dinner in a typical home in Makunduchi. We sat on the floor and ate together in traditional way with our hands. Our hosts are eager to improve life here. Meeting the young people today brings hope that coming generations can get improvement to their villages by getting running water and electricity in the homes. Education for all! The meeting between our students in Sundsvall and  students from here has a special importance. They are the future!

Today we are meeting the leading committee to further our discussions with themes such as history of Zanzibar, new local government act and challenges of local government. I am particularly interested to hear about the new rules and responsibilities for local governance. As it stands today municipalities have no resources and no clearly defined responsibilities.

Makunduchi- day one.

 

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Our first twenty four hours in Zanzibar south. Many meetings with leaders and villagers from Makunduchi. By the way it is pronounced Makundutchi as taught by friend and colleague Mr . Mwita Massemo. Yesterday we were met at the airport by project colleagues Mr. Hafith Ameir and Mr. Moh’med Moumbwa. A mini van took us to the La Madrugada hotel under the guiding expertise of Miss Zaina. Zaina has education in business administration but was very pleased to have this job as guide.

On our afternoon tour of Makunduchi we met women groups in the different villages. They meet under trees once a week on a money saving scheme. By the time night came we all needed a good night’s sleep. This first delegation to kick off the project is a political one. Composing it besides myself are Hans Zetterkvist and Ina Skandevall. Christine Strömberg is the Coordinator for Sundsvall.

This   morning a large numbers of youngsters came to see us at the Hotel. I asked them what were their dreams and goal with life.At the beginning everybody was rather shy but eventually each and everyone stood up presented themselves and described what they would like to do in the future. Many wanted to become teachers, others  wanted to work in construction , medicine and law, feminist philosopher, and acting were also targets for the Makunduchi youngsters. They would rather have met people in the same age which is completely justifiable. My overall impression is that these young people do not differ from our own in Sundsvall concerning their ambitions and dreams. In Sweden it should be much easier to accomplish them though.

 

 

Lagos y Cerros

Lagos

On the 9th of December 1989, a Saturday, the Swedish labour movement delegation where I was included sat on a bus to take us to Valparaiso. The morning had been spent, learning about the forthcoming elections and the PPD’s plan to regain democratic power in Chile after Pinochet’s dictatorship. This election was, after all, the main reason for our visit and this election was the result of a victory by the democratic voters in the referendum of 1988.

We joined up with Senate candidate Ricardo Lagos and could in the middle of the crowd listen to many complaints about the appalling conditions residents chose to take up with us. Lagos would later become president of the Republic of Chile. Together with us you can spot José Goñi that accompanied this delegation and is presently ambassador in Stockholm. This I was actually not aware of until yesterday when I received his Christmas greetings.

Visiting Valparaiso had a special importance to me. I had met many Chilean immigrants in my hometown of Sundsvall the previous couple of years and many came from this hilly coastal town. In Sundsvall they found a hilly town too even if the Cerros of Valparaiso were not easily compared to Sundsvall’s own Norra and Södra berg. Even the huge Pacific Ocean at this coastal city’s feet would have to compare to the even calmer Baltic Sea. I remember that we arrived from the 100 km bus trip and went to a restaurant where many sea food dishes were presented and many of these were exciting novelties to practically all of us.

The afternoon was spent visiting our Folkets Hus (Cenpros) project and learning about the hard toll on youth and women that the dictatorship had burdened on so many. Problems with unemployment, crime, lack of education opportunities, violence, abortions and other social problems had been allowed to grow by a regime that cared little for the people and their well-being.

We saw also another side of the society, away from the Cerros and through fashionable Viña del Mar a few miles away where the wealthy rather spent their time.

 

Valparaiso 1989

According to Barata…

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João Barata is a student of photojournalism at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall. He has as part of his work interviewed me in 2013. I have with his pernission decided to post his own version of myself here and share it with you.

“The Marginal road gave a good view of the Lisbon coast. When will I ever see it again, he thought while being driven by his dad to the airport. Joao Pinheiro decided to leave Portugal and move to the country where he was born, England. A war was going on between the Portuguese regime and the colonies. Angola, Guine-Bissau and Mozambique were the destination of several young men that had to fight for a regime that many, like Joao, did not support.

 

The arrival in the UK on the 11th of September 1968 was a turning point in his life. Many times the 16-year-old felt alone and displaced from a culture he had left behind at the age of three. To adapt and to integrate in the British society was extremely difficult during that first year. It would take time to make friends and to fully understand his new being. Fortunately he had the help from his uncle, who owned a chain of Patisseries spread all over south London. Joao was delighted that Uncle Dennis was prepared to give him employment and a living wage of 6 guineas a week. During those first months, his grandfather Joseph was also an extremely important person in the integration process. He helped him finding a job in the City (London’s’ financial district), and bought him his first tie. He even taught him to make a knot with it. In addition, he sent an envelope with a pound every Friday that many times kept Joao going.

 

On a cold, sunny autumn day I meet Joao for an interview. We gather outside the local library, near the Council offices where he works as a politician. We are not in Portugal or England but in Sundsvall, Sweden. It’s a small city halfway the coastline of the country. Joao’s job with the Department of Education is to improve learning standards in schools; “Education is my passion,” he points out. The politician seems to know almost everyone that passes by and even enquires the Polish workforce, restoring the pavement outside the main building, about their lives in Sweden. Before we go inside, Joao says to me, “Immigrants have value”.

We find some available seats in the library’s café and order coffee. Joao moved to Sweden in 1973 with is first wife Mona. Her parents were loyal to the workers and cooperative movement led by the Swedish Social Democratic Party. He tells me, “Mona’s father did volunteer work (…) we would not fill the car with petrol anywhere else but at the cooperative”. Everyone in the family was a member of the trade union. It was practice every day of the month, every month of the year. “It was a powerful religion”, Joao recalls. They had a great influence on him and within months of his arrival he went on to join the Party.

A few years later he volunteered to work with the GIF’s program, ‘Back to Basics’. Sundsvall’s biggest football club had the youth department underdeveloped and was missing the basic services that could help the local communities to enroll on sports activities. “I wanted to assist this communities in helping young people to feel integrated socially”, he says. “People that had money could do two or three sports but the immigrant communities were left out.” So, in 2001, he became President for the youth department of the club and by 2009 they had one of the best academies in the country.

Near the end of the interview, Joao opens up about the recent difficult times he’s been going through. In 2011 he lost two extremely important people during his existence, Mona and his mother. Their death made the 60-year-old look back at his life. It was difficult for him to cope with the loss, “it made me think about what and who I am”, he reveals. Shortly after, he started a blog on his earliest memories, “I write to publish some of the thoughts that passed through my mind in those days. Maybe I can make sense of it now”, he adds.

 

Some people that walk by our table recognize Joao and interrupt the interview. They talk in Swedish and I can’t understand what they are saying but these people are very willing to approach the Portuguese politician. He takes time to listen to what they have to say to him and is actually interested in knowing what is going on with them. There is honesty in Joao’s interaction with other people and they seem to appreciate that. Everyone is at ease.

While they speak, I think to myself that Joao’s life has been shaped by sturdy decisions that caused him to have a great sense of reverence for others. He’s a man that both respects and is respected. He’s a good man.”

Indres in Sundsvall

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Indres Naidoo came to us in Sundsvall in 1987. I enjoyed seeing him and as he had lived in Mozambique we had some of the Portuguese connection there too. When the ANC delegation was completed (9 people) they attended a course at the Trade Union (LO) school of Brunnsvik where the theme was theory of local administration, the civil structures of Sweden, the laws, etc. Useful information as Indres later on would be elected as member of South African parliament.

These 9 ANC members were later allocated to different areas around the country. As they were an odd number one had to come somewhere alone. It was the ex Robben Island prisoner that came alone to Sundsvall. He was now 51 years old and I was a junior with my 35.

The local ABF office was in charge of setting up the program in the region. This is how Indres described his stay in Sundsvall. ”The people who were in charge of me drove me all the way to Sundsvall, where they rented a flat for me. A fully furnished flat, right in the centre of town. I got a daily allowance for food, but I never ate at home. The only thing that I ever had at home was breakfast, because I was out at lunch-time. I went to factories. I went to schools. I went to government offices, and I used to have my lunch there.”

And he continues to explain:

“The agreement between ANC and ABF was that we should spend time with all political parties, the Social Democrats, the Communists or Left Party, the Liberal Party and the Centre Party, and that agreement was kept. I was very busy. I sat in at meetings of the local council and they took me along to show me how the local administration worked. I spent two days with the police force.”

“I then spent two days with the Centre Party. I was taken to a farm and it was very impressive. On the farm there were a husband and wife and two adult sons and a daughter. Just the five of them controlled the entire farm. It was a dairy farm and they had fields of alfalfa. They worked very hard. They were up at five in the morning, milking the cows.” Whose farm was that? (Selléns?)

If you want to read more about Indres and his life you can acquire his book “ Island in chains” or look at these interviews.

http://www.liberationafrica.se/intervstories/interviews/naidoo/

http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/indrasena-elatchininathan-naidoo

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Prisoner 885/63

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I remember how excited we were when asked to host a comrade from the ANC in Sundsvall. It was in autumn of 1987. I had been involved in international work for the Social democratic party for some time. It was now just about one year since our Prime Minister Olof Palme had been murdered. What better way to honour his memory but to work politically and internationally.

It turned out that it was Indres Naidoo exiled ANC member that would come to stay with us in Sundsvall for a few weeks where he would participate and study different activities connected with our political life at the local and regional levels. Indres was a prisoner at the renown Robben Island  between the years of 1963 and 1973. There was a book published by Penguin in 1982 “Island in chains”. In it Indres describes to Albie Sachs what life was like when chained down by a rasist regime .

A flat was rented for him in Skönsberg and I followed him whenever I had the opportunity. Indres was here as part of a program of solidarity where Sweden stood firm when many other countries ignored the struggle against the system of apartheid.

This is how Indres described his sortie from Lusaka, Zambia where he was working at the time.” I got to Zambia and while I was there, I was appointed to go to Sweden. It was chaotic. Only two of us were on the plane instead of nine. There was chaos between ANC and the Swedish embassy in Lusaka. The two of us landed in Stockholm and a week later the others joined us. The Social Democratic Party was having a congress in Stockholm and Prime Minister Carlsson invited us to have lunch with him, all of us. But, unfortunately, because only two of us had arrived they had to cancel that. However, there was a big welcome for us. We also went to attend the Social Democratic Party congress. I looked around and the first thing that struck me was all the red banners and the letters SAP. I started to laugh and said: ‘Oh God, SAP—South African Police— everywhere’. But I realized that SAP was short for the Swedish Social Democratic Party.”

Indres and I in 1987.

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I want, I want

 william blake I want I want

I want, I want

Oh, how I want to climb that ladder

Reach the moon.

See me, see me. Here I am!

I think I’m ready

I can see it over there.

I can make it, I can make it

The height is nothing, I’ll never fall

I will do it, I will do it

Whatever it takes, whoever I’ll break

To reach my goal.

It is mine. I want it for myself.

 

Sundsvall in the seventies

 

 http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2003/aug/27/art

Rescaldo do Suécia- Portugal

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Rescaldo é o mesmo que esfriar…Esfriar de emoções e de algum nervosismo que pelo menos eu senti, logo que soube que nos calhava jogar o play-off contra a Suécia. Há que ver que se tratava de uma equipa bem embalada e confiante depois de no seu grupo só ter feito pior que a Alemanha.

O David disse logo -Vamos lá a Estocolmo. E ficou decidido. Havia que comprar os bilhetes para ficar na bancada dos portugueses. Através do site dos emigrantes e sócios do clube Lusitania de Estocolmo ficámos a saber que se compravam os bilhetes pela Internet na página da Federação Portuguesa de Futebol.  Como não tenho a nacionalidade portuguesa ficaram em nome da Patricia. Para levantá-los levámos autorização e documento de identificação dela. Tudo funcionou bem.

Como tinha que trabalhar na terça, só conseguimos ver a alternativa para chegar e voltar no mesmo dia, só indo de carro. É que são sensivelmente 4 horas de viagem que nos separam de Sundsvall. Ainda fui trabalhar de manhã e o David foi à escola. Saímos por volta do meio dia. Como nos disseram que a situação de estacionamento ao pé da Friends Arena é caótica decidimos estacionar em Upplands-Väsby ,nos arredores a norte de Solna e daí apanhámos o comboio.

Quando chegámos à estação de Solna eram umas quatro da tarde. Já havia muita gente, nomeadamente muitos portugueses. Demos logo com a compratiota Luisa Paulo, que se tinha mascarado de Pippi das longas meias portuguesa. A Luisa é uma pessoa que toma muitas iniciativas e organiza actividades para a comunidade Portuguesa de Estocolmo. A Luisa tinha marcado uns 60 lugares para os portugueses que quisessem comer e beber algo antes do jogo. Fomos para lá e pedimos uma Coca-cola.

 Foi o principio da confraternização que aí começava à volta da nossa seleção. Muitas vezes são os imigrantes quem mais se regozija com os nossos sucessos desportivos, remetidos como estão, anos a anos, a uma vida de trabalho longe de familiares e amigos de infancia, nem sempre considerados plenamente pelas pessoas que são. Após cerca de meia hora estalou um alarme, que em bom som, avisaou que havia um incendio no restaurante e que era necessário, urgentemente, evacuar as instalações. E assim fizemos começando a dirigir-nos para a arena nacional de futebol da Suécia.

Começava uma noite inesquecivel.

The Umeå years (2)

 

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Umeå was not an inviting town in 1976. I felt lonely… My son has later described my homecomings at weekends as those of a stranger. I spent most of my time sitting in the library studying in order to get my teacher’s degree as fast as possible. It was a time for sacrifice. We did not have much money. The Swedish system with a study grant was important to our economy. In the summer I earned some money on summer jobs in Sundsvall.

There were some positive highlights that I will mention in coming texts concerning my years in Umeå. The first one I would mention was enrolling in the Social-Democratic Student Association. I learned on arrival that every student had to belong to the Student Union (kår). I also learned that students could elect their representatives to the student Parliament.

Umeå was still living the spirit of 1968. They were many discussions and debates concerning most things big and small. The SD students were radical and much on the left of the main party. The British “Militant” section of the Labour party was the inspiration. The ideas for the newspaper” Offensiv”, were based on Trotskij’s socialist defiance of Stalin Communism. When I enrolled I got involved in the matter at hand that had to do on whether or not a number of members of the club should be excluded. A decision was eventually taken and some of the “Offensiv” members were excluded and accused of infiltration. When I arrived most of these exclusions had already been carried through.

Maybe one should remember in what world we were living then with violent Vietnam war just ended after 20 years and quiet cold war dividing people and ideas.

The student club was a place to be welcomed in. The interest for international questions and politics engaged and excited me. I recall many of these colleagues and many interesting meetings we had. I was invited to travel to different towns in the north and Olle Westerlund’s old Volvo took us to places like Storuman in the Lapland interior. We travelled there through snowstorms and reindeer herds.

Here with Christer Holmgren and Christer Söderman in 1977

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