This is another piece written in response to the theme of ‘migration’. I decided to take a completely different approach to writing for this. I notice that I find ‘doing the research’ the element of writing that I can gloss over quickly and, therefore, decided to base this on research about people who had come to Britain as refugees or migrants, with a story element at the end. It was interesting to learn about the different people in my piece; I was especially taken by the story of Jaber Abdullah.
The Saatchi family fled Iraq for Britain in 1947. “Nothing is impossible” is carved in the steps of the London Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Agency.
Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara, fled Zanzibar for the UK with his family at the time of the bloody revolution; he became part of the world famous rock group, Queen. He once said, “If I lost everything tomorrow, I’d claw my way back to the top somehow”.
Rita Ora came to the UK as a baby – a refugee from Kosovo. She is now an internationally renown singer.
British MPs Ed and David Miliband are sons of Belgian Jewish refugees.
The Grandson of a Czechoslovakian refugee who fled with his family to Wales, Ben Elton is a prolific comedy writer, best known for TV comedies Black Adder and The Young Ones, along with the musical We Will Rock You.
Mona Hatoum is an artist; she is also a Palestinian Lebanese refugee.
The Great British store Marks and Spencer of which we are so proud was co-founded by Michael Marks, a Polish Jew who emigrated to England in the 1880s.
A Kenyan refugee, Lakshmibhai Pathak, is the founder of the British company Pataks, making and selling Indian style curry pastes, sauces, pickles and spices.
Jaber Abdullah is a Sudanese asylum seeker. He saved £3 from his £30 a week benefits to buy a football and subsequently set up Refugee Tigers Football Club who are now part of the amateur league. Barnsley Football Club offered support to the team.
Liverpool Football Club player Dejan Lovren left war torn Bosnia at the age of three with his family.
What could be more British than the Mini? This little car was designed by Alec Issigonis whose family were evacuated from Smyrna, Turkey, following the end of the Greco Turkish war.
Known as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud fled Vienna for London in 1938. In reference to his books being burned by the Nazis, he is quoted as saying:
“What progress are we making. In the middle ages, they would have burned me – now they are content with burning my books.”
Refugees, asylum seekers, people. I am but an ageing woman who is no longer a wife, a mother, a grandmother or an aunt. My health is torn apart by trauma and poverty. I may have little to offer today but tomorrow? Maybe I too will join the ranks of the famous refugees who have fled persecution and torture, heading for hope and humanity, or maybe I will be your neighbour and offer you a kindness. If you are a Christian, perhaps, when you see me, you will remember the most famous refugee of all; Jesus, who fled the holy land to escape King Herod.
© Liz MacKenzie
9 November 2017