Six dollars from death
„Six dollars from death” is a story on Africa in its latest ten years, captured in the life of Marti Myre, an urban refugee. I ran into Marti on a street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and after a few hours, I understood that his life story blends everything that I have learnt to date on Africa.
The stories of refugees are not always true, or they cannot be true. You modify your own biography, because a changed story grants an opportunity for your future. Truth is often inappropriate. Truth can lead you to prison, deportation or a graveyard.
No one trusts refugees. They are not trusted by journalists, civil servants, customs officials, policemen, and ordinary people. Every time they come into contact with refugees, they listen to their stories with a hint of disbelief. They squint, they raise their eyebrows, they keep asking them questions. Refugees themselves often repeat that they live in a world of lies. They must lie and, at the same time, control who knows what about them. Every additional lie makes them lose the truth about themselves.
I also fell into this trap. I’m listening to Martie, and there is a red light in the back of my head. I keep asking him tricky questions – I ask him about details, dates, and after he says a few sentences, I ask him to repeat his earlier words.
And then, I see a hand in front of my eyes, with two fingers missing. I can feel the shivers going through me. It’s steaming hot outside, and I’m having chills and goosebumps.
No, it’s not malaria. It’s shame.
But this life story is in fact a multi-dimensional story on what happened on the African continent in the past ten years. The story includes angles on the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, the Dadaab refugee camp, internal migrations in Africa, and the impact of Barack Obama, his importance for Africa. This life story shows a lot of fear, uncertainty and injustice, but also longing for the loved ones, faith and hope for a better tomorrow. A robust faith which I had not seen in anyone else before.