Stories for life

Thousands Throng 2010 Forum Book Fair

Seedy Bojang (Gambia) is the ICORN Guest Writer of Frederiksberg City of Refuge (Denmark). These are his thoughts after participating in the 2010 Copenhagen Book Fair.




Denmark is land of peace, cultural diversity and literature. And as such, a book fair was held to promote literal works of different genres, both by Danish writers and other nationalities. Thousands of visitors thronged at the book fair, either buying or taking glimpse of books, which were arranged in shelves, packed and parceled or packaged according to series. 


A series of activities had taken place in this latest book fair in Forum, attended by several dignitaries, including the Danish Minister of Culture, Per Moller and International Cities of Refugees Network's Executive Director, Helge Lunde. On the first day of the session, I had a reading of my seventh book, entitled Our Tears And Sorrow, which I am currently doing in Denmark.  


As I sat down going through the text, I could still feel the trauma in the heart of Maimuna, the protagonist of my book, who like other journalists and writers in media unfriendly environments flee their country of birth, because of persecution. 


After introducing myself in Danish to the surprise of the cheering crowd, I started reading the piece: 


‘The plan to burn down printing press and offices of the independent press, though stupid enough to carry out bad policies and ideas by silencing independent journalists, those running for offices have been noticeably silent about the issue.

From today till night until I die,
I shall keep aloft the power of the pen,
No matter what, or whose gut is cut,
Hitting at human rights violations, injustice and the never-ending corruption in Africa,
As lack of information only creates a false image, dictatorship and endemic corruption.'



On the following day, Olav Hergel was also on stage, portraying the life of a 19-year-old refugee from Iraq, whom he features in his latest book, entitled Indvandreren (The Immigrant). Hergel is a Danish journalist and author who is known, especially in covering the refugee compound. After 18 years at the newspaper Berlingske Tidende, he switched in 2005 to Politiken. He received in 2006 Cavling Prize, together with photographer Miriam Dalsgaard for a series on refugees and refugee children in Danish asylum centers.


In a chat with the author of the book, Olav Hergel said the book tells a story about the life of a young immigrant who had had tough times in five different refugee camps. 


On what prompted him to write a piece about the young lad, Olav said he came in contact with him in a refugee camp in Sandhold Lejren, where he had been living with his parents for 6 years, when he was just 16-years-old. He said the fact that he is a good story teller, charismatic and intelligent, he decided to dig into the circumstances surrounding the life of this immigrant, and to come up with a book that would captivate his life.  amapur diät erfolge -


Olav said Wissam was 10 years, when he fled with his brother and his mother through Turkey and Europe with a truck to Denmark, where they were dropped off 50 yards from Sandholm. As a teenager, he could jump 2 meters and 13 in height, walk down stairs on his hands, committing himself in German, English, Kurdish, Danish, Arabic and Persian. He said he had lived in five different detention centers and felt "like a ball who was kicked from place to place".  At 16-years-old, he said, the worst thing that has happened to him in his life, was that he was severely beaten, because he fought for some Danish values and defended a metrosexual boy from being bullied.


Narrating the ordeal of this young immigrant, he said after writing an article about him in Politiken newspaper, he was featured in the television. And as a result, he was invited to be enrolled in a language school where he met many other immigrants of different background and nationalities. "Here he was doing well until when he met another guy, probably a gay, who was mocked by other nationalities because of his beliefs, and as he tried to stop others from hurting him he was severely beaten. They attacked, smashed and jumped on him, and thereby hurt him," he stated. This, he went on, had kept the boy from coming to school until when he was about to be sent away because of his status.


Now he is 19 years, and much of the summer he spent in Brorson Church, where his brother has been one of the spokesmen for the Iraqis. But 30th July Wissam was arrested, not because he is a felon. But because he and his family has rejected Iraqi asylum seekers and should be sent out after living eight years in Denmark. "I feel sorry for myself actually. I do not think there are so many 19-year-olds who have experienced this in their lives. All I want is just peace and permission to remain. Why am I not allowed to stay and pay taxes to this community? I'm angry that someone can afford to do it here. I would never do that to others," he quoted the young immigrant who struggled to live without any chance of being connected to his loved one, Rosa, a Cuban living in Denmark.


Also, the Danish PEN were there at the scene mobilizing support for the jailed Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, to receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize, which they noted, should be looked upon as a great honour for all freedom-loving Chinese people. 


Stories for Life is an open space in which writers from all over the world can connect and release their stories. Over the next five years of the Shahrazad project, these narratives will be created and disseminated by poets, journalists, novelists, editors, cartoonists, translators and essayists throughout Europe and beyond. They will be introduced to European children and young people in schools and local communities and they too will be invited to respond.

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The storyteller

Shahrazad: Stories for Life will bring you new and exciting tales told by writers persecuted and silenced in their own homelands.

Shahrazad: Stories for Life will bring you new and exciting tales told by writers persecuted and silenced in their own homelands. Many are living as guest writers in a city of refuge.
Profile projects

Shahrazad: Stories for Life is a collaboration between six different organisations based in six European Cities of Refuge.

Shahrazad: Stories for Life will programme a cluster of events throughout the project period, including readings, debates, workshops and activities in various cultural arenas across Europe. To find out what’s happening in your area, check the calendar and news.
Partner Cities

Shahrazad: Stories for Life is a collaboration between six different organisations...

Shahrazad: Stories for Life is a collaboration between six different organisations based in six European Cities of Refuge: Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt, Norwich, Stockholm and Stavanger. While each city offers different approaches and different strengths, we all work for freedom of expression and for literature.
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