tv The Stream 2019 Ep 202 Al Jazeera December 19, 2019 11:32am-12:01pm +03
in 10 cities a controversial law for citizenship to persecuted minorities from 3 neighboring countries but it scoots muslims the leaders meeting at a summit in kuala lumpur have been told they must address the visions between islamic nations in the malaysian capital to find ways to tackle the biggest issues facing their countries. a strangely a has sweltering through its hottest state ever just 24 hours after breaking the previous record the average temperature across the country on thursday was 41.9 degrees celsius heat wave is expected to spar on intense bushfires especially in new south wales where a state of emergency has been declared you're up to date those are our current headlines the news continues here on al-jazeera right after the street see you a bit later but i.
swear if you. welcome to the stream on 70 today we're joined by the award winning poet and playwright loves to say is also also with beautiful war memoir my name is why i'm willing to talk about the challenges of rediscovering his past as well as his art and inspirations joined today's conversation through twitter and you tube. lamsa say is one of the u.k.'s most celebrated writers and has brought out from poetry into fields of. broadcasting his work as we recognize with bafta nominations
and this year's pen the painter prize he is also overcome a series of challenges in his early life which are detailed unflinchingly in his new book my name is why traces loans early years growing up in a white foster family and then care homes in northern england the book charts a week by week work record of the files held by the authorities responsible for his care lem joins us now from london lev it's so good to have you this remarkable memoir that you have it is informed by notes your case files from when you were a foster kid as a foster child growing up in a foster home and then when you were then atheist hey institutions i will i'm going to show some of audience what this actually looks like because you put some of this paperwork into your book and there's even moments when you're writing your book and you say i just read that as you write in your book as a memoir what was that like to read about yourself and then write and share that self with the public. well for the 1st sort of the 1st 16 years of
my life i thought my name was norman i had i left the care system at 18 years of age with no family and no witnesses. i was a living and have been forced to live a lie i had my mother and family stolen from me i was imprisoned as a child i was institutionalized i was. dragged through a foster home of people who hated me as a baby alone to hate me and then i was left alone at 18 years to survive the rest of my life with no family so i spent 30 years trying to get the documents which were witness to the things that happened to me because otherwise i would sound like some crazy guy banging on about some strange thing that happened
in his childhood no i was imprisoned i had my mother stolen from me and my family and even my name i didn't even know my name till i was 16 and. so getting these files and seeing seeing what they did to me over 18 years showed me the evidence that i needed to take the entire government in england to caught so that they could pay for what they had done to me and i also spent my adult life searching for the family that had been stolen from me that's one story but this book firstly i took the government to caught when i found when i got all of the files in 2015 i had the evidence of what they done to me. i'm very i could write the book and remember my life has been public record hundreds of people really seen comments about me decide making decisions
about me imprisoning me even as a child so so to me the memoir is not a exposé of myself it is showing you what is already public record i have a right to my past i have a right to my childhood and i have a right to my future and my presence as well and that's really what my book is about. you know i you know. don't be sorry that is so powerful and really just speaks to how powerful the book is itself thank you for sharing it with the world and you mentioned a public record and this being a public record it's also people online are telling us the record of a system that is fundamentally flawed so i want to share this tweet from madaline who says it wrenches at the heart to hear about those in the quote on pope care system and not for the 1st time i question why it is called they care system hash
tag foster care there what are your thoughts on the care system does it be how you grew up and how you were as you say stolen from your family. well initially the name the caste system is because it wants to care but we have to ask questions of not deny the process necessarily but ask the questions of what is it about particular countries around the world who feel that the only solution for those children in those parts of the world in this case ethiopia we feel it is the solution for that child to take them to another part of the world change their name and then institutionalize them which is what happened to me there are some great stories in the care system there are some great adoptees who are with happy
families and that's really how it should be but when you hear on dan rather reporting on on the news in america of ethiopian children being thrown out onto the street when you hear about a small girl of her teenage years who dies the hands of adopting parents in ethiopia when you see television programs like amy the girl returns about a child who just wanted to go back to her family when you hear these stories you must ask yourself the question if this is the care system then it can only be as good as its worst practices because these are children this is their full lives be led with a childhood whether denied to themselves and they are effectively abused. if you want to care for an african child then then then help them through education maybe they can come to your country through education but don't don't deny their
parents the right to still call their child my baby i don't think that that signing a peace story you know i have. apologize you can go on we have one question for you we could do the whole show with just one question let me share something that you shared on your part of this is this is your foster family so many things went wrong had your name was changed from them to norman by social services norman greenwood yep severely green with your foster family here and then they decided when you got to a certain age that they didn't want you to live with them anymore and then that's just . started out our household well they see but how can you be from a little boy to 12 and you're a member of the family you are their son and then you've won what was going on in their home to know this they said they were my family forever you see what happened is my mother came to england from ethiopia in 1060 it's like many english students
she went to another part of the world to have her education and then was going back very very simple but she landed in england in 1960 s. when if you are a pregnant woman and by the way she she didn't know she was pregnant when she arrived in england and she had no intention of staying in england and she didn't she was placed into a mother and baby home the sole purpose of these institutions was to get those vulnerable young women to sign the adoption papers so the child should be taken and given to adopting parents because in england it was so shameful to be pregnant outside of marriage in the late 1960 s. as it was in many parts of the world that they wanted to housed these women a bit like margaret atwood's. the program by for the book by margaret get him a stereo yet these women were put into these institutions made to clean the floors
made to prayed by the nuns and then at their most vulnerable were asked to sign the adoption papers now my mother refused to sign the adoption papers she said no i want him the social worker gave me to foster parents these are all technical terms foster parents and said to them treat this as an adoption he's your child forever and his name is norman but he didn't tell my mother that he was doing that so that's that deception at the beginning of the process is where most problems lonely in the adoption market so i was never adopted and when the foster parents realised that i was growing into probably what they feared most which was a black man. once that happened and they saw that i was no longer the could leave baby but i was growing into a 12 year old young man. and because of their own problems it to be honest it may
have not been about me becoming a man it may have been because of their own problems in fact i think that's what it was they then put me into care and said i will never write to you or speak to you again remember these are the people who taught me how to call them and let these are the people who told me that africa yeah i want to show this picture of you because i want to i want to see what you were like as a as a little youngster here with. you in your school uniform you're wearing a red tie there you look at durable one of the things i want you to do is to read for me and this is how you feel that people saw you as you got a little bit older because you went from as you say from the cute cuddly little brown baby into a young black man and there's something in chat chat 23 of your memoir that leapt out at me we share it with our audience. yes i will and we have to remember that at 12 they put me into children's homes are lost everybody my brothers my sisters my
arms my uncles my cousins my granddad all the people that i thought were my family and i was housed in institutions not knowing my own name and inside those institutions i slowly became a teenager i was given the nickname chalky white which was supposed to be a joke and then this happened i realized i am a black man i said to myself i am a black man i am not color blind i am a black man i am not sure he white i am not a nigger a coon a wog i am a black man i changed the seemingly overnight from the cheeky chappy the happy go lucky joker into a threat and it hurt me how could identify and who i am be a threat to people. i couldn't see the shopkeeper flushed red from the neck with the sight of me or the store detectives following me in the shops the bull stops i
couldn't see the woman clutching a humbug as i stood waiting for the bulls i couldn't see that no one would sit next to me on the bulls i couldn't see men glaring at me i couldn't see people encounters craning their necks to stare at me i couldn't see the people from the tops of the buses pointing to me and laughing at me i couldn't see them hocking got phlegm and spitting at me from the bull's eye couldn't see the police watching me all the police cars slowing down deliberately as they passed i couldn't see the cars accelerating as i crossed the road. things are. powerful men in powerful reading your work is poetic and beautiful even as you're telling arrowing tales and stories about what happened to you i want to share what your work means to some people this is tony mason on twitter who says just finished my name is why it is
a perfectly written harrowing provoking and shocking read how wonderful to see the kid that went through all of this as he is today but put that to one side for a moment because earlier you mentioned that you're not alone in this in a way you mention some documentaries that talk about the system of adoption and one of them was featured on al-jazeera as witness it's called a girl in return we have a girl remember we have a video comes from the director who's a friend of yours between here and here's what she told the stream. i think the biggest surprise for me doing my work with these 2 film i don't know about adoption is with the 1st one mercy mercy was definitely when i found out that 90 percent approximately 90 percent of all that often in the world they are not really off and they do have a living mother and father but they are not able to take care of them and with my work on girl in return i was very very shocked to see how much it's.
your culture and your mother how important that is for you when you were formed as a person that i mean one could say that it kind of runs in your blood and you need if you exclude that from a person you create a big trauma from this person and i would like to hear him talk about how he experienced that whole cultural thing. the lack of it in his upbringing. selema why your thoughts on that but keep in mind as we're doing the show we're going out live on you tube and there are so many people in the comments saying he's is the lpn he has had bashar i now have so talk to us about that whole identity because people recognize you whether you do as a young child or not no. i am now known to my people ok like i am known to my people in ethiopia and i am i'm blessed by being part of a community of ethiopians in ethiopia and throughout the world you know my father
was a pilot for ethiopian airlines my mom works for the u.n. in new york of sisters and brothers all over the world but but but the true family is of people who stop me in the street in new york in washington d.c. especially washington d.c. but in nairobi all all over the world who are ethiopians who can look at me and say it's you lemon. lemon my name in am harrick lemon it means the question of why and it reminds me most of all this and it's this is the most important thing that my entire life and finding my family and of ethiopia in general and put of me it's that i am not defined by my. books by the incredible ability to heal you. so when i meet ethiopians. i am healing and so it's
a joyous occasion my story may have seemed to you but i've always followed the lights always followed what i believed to be the truth even when isolated and having nobody to support me and so now i get to be the ethiopian the 1st ethiopian chancellor of a university. in britain the university of manchester i get to oversee and to instigate the equity american scholarship scheme which is a scholarship for ethiopian students who have graduated for the 1st time this month i get subring mulatu are stuck to the brighton festival where i am an artistic director this month i get to bring writers from ethiopia of to england to support form at festivals i get to be able to do good things because because they feed me i've been given so much from ethiopia that. that i can give
birth i can give back the love that i'm given on a daily basis and it's a blessing in ethiopia my name. is an unusual name it means the question why. and every time i meet a need. that's daily. i have i have my answer i have for i love they just things claim that i want to share this picking up on that because i have met here road and i'm from it he opiah and i know that lemon and he say and i am her it means y. and luck respectively but i want to know whether the meanings of his name have influenced his writings in any way p.s. i love his poems and then underneath that someone said i actually think system means blessings so how do your names the media yourself have they represented in your poems. i'll tell you this.
in ethiopia there is a patronymic naming system but because my mother was in england she couldn't use it on my birth certificate so my 2nd name is my mother's 2nd name and that is not a normal way that an ethiopian will name their child so say could mean blessing and it could mean riches it's been said to to mean but the name that my mother wanted me to have was lemon. and that is connected to. events that happened before i was born and.
lam. it stopped although i thought every time you write or open your mouth poems are coming out of your mouth sometimes you're just posting on facebook or is this poetry or is it just posting i have no hide here i want to share this beautiful picture from your website which is you talking to people with your poetry the way you put your worst together so beautiful it doesn't feel like the poetry i had to study university it sounds like you're just talking and you are many easing and the way that you construct your words everybody going to look at the top of the lens to defeat lenses how do you do it said knight how do you weigh can sign i keep it simple satellite one day at a time thousands of people out of the thousands and thousands of thousands how do you write them what's the poetry that goes for your what's your process. well
there are more words passing between more people now than since the beginning of time and a.j. stream is a great example of that the act of writing whether it's via the twitter where there's 5 a you tube whether it's via facebook writing is more important now that it's ever been otherwise the internet would just exist on images so every day i've not done it for a few months now but i'll try and do it tomorrow every day i try to think of 4 lines to describe how i feel and the day so that particular verse how do you do it at night how do you weigh can shine i keep it simple so it light one day a time that particular 4 lines which i put out one morning has been with people in hospitals has been somebody showed it today online because somebody passed away and and somebody suggested that those 4 lines may help help this man actually it was a man called reverend richard coles from b.b.c.
but. the. the act of writing has to be done every every day if it's going to fine if it's going to keep itself fresh and that's what i would like to do. you can't write in your head you have to physically wrote. and i find twitter and facebook and sutter are perfect vehicles for the written words they really are they're a gift or was. it really or. because years so open about sharing your story and healing through that and having other people heal through that i wanted to share a question we getting lots of places on twitter on you tube and give this to you about your birth family one percent how many are on you tube i would like to know how his relationship with his mom goes so talk to us very briefly if you can i know
there's a lot there and i'm path but your relationship with your birth mother the relationship with your foster mother. my foster mother is never spoke to me. i forgave her though i went to see her and forgave my foster mother fully. my 2 birth mother. i can't i can't speak for her and for the relationship how the relationship is i can't speak to that because that's that's from from her one of the things that i learned about family is is that sometimes i didn't realize this but sometimes a family feels things are better not. you know many of our families you know sometimes we don't speak about the traumatic events that happened to was because
they're too painful. and and i'm not like that i didn't realize that that's how family families are because i came out having to tell my story so that i could find my family that's the only way i could find them is to tell my story i didn't realize that family is really base it's all about stories and it's all about stories that are not spoken as well as the ones that are spoken. so it's complicated i also. have a poem we have one minute do yours does your poem fit into one minute invisible class and i can make it do that yes i'll cook i'll make it do that if there was from a mother to a child. if there was ever one whom when you are sleep in who would wipe your tears when in dreams you will weep in who would offer you time when others demand and whose love lay more infinity than grains of sand if there was ever one to whom you
could cry who would gather each tear and blow it dry who would offer help on the mountains of time and you would stop to let each sunsets suit your shades of mind if there was ever one whom when you believe if there was ever one whom when you achieve was there before the dream and even then believed who would clear the air when its full of loss who would count love before cost if there was ever one who can offer you this and more who in keyless rooms can see open doors who in open doors can see open fields and in open fields see how this you can see only my face in the reflection of these tides through the clear water be on the riverside all i can send is love and all that this is and poem and a necklace of invisible kisses lands to say thank you for being our guest on the.
author of. why auntie thing away the princess. for over a year protest is across france have demanded economic justice police have responded with mass arrests i'm a tree grade weapons to constrain the movement do you think he could have been mistaken between aiming at your head all your chest all those people in power has been in france to investigate the escalation of violence and ask what this means for free speech and the democratic rights of its citizens police on trial on al-jazeera.
their stories. i still tomorrow i witnessed documentary on al-jazeera. it president must not be allowed to become a dictator or a fiercely divided u.s. house of representatives votes to impeach president donald trump a move he has and i'm just as a disgrace is still crime. there's no crime i'm the 1st person to get the breach is no crime. hello again i'm julie went on and this is al jazeera live from doha also coming up a guilty verdict in the philippines.
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