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Refugees.

Whilst writing my main review on Aida Silvestri’s ‘Even This Will Pass’ show at Roman road I have decided I ought to further my knowledge of why so many refugees are fleeing the Horn of Africa.

I have begun reading the book ‘Conflict and the refugee experience: flight, exile, and repatriation in the Horn of Africa by Assafaw Bariagaber, 2006.

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Conflict and the refugee experience: flight, exile, and repatriation in the Horn of Africa by Assafaw Bariagaber, 2006. 

Silvestri suggests that many of the refugees she interviews have fled Eritrea due to the poor standard of the dictatorial government, the population are under political regime and strict surveillance as well as having no freedom of speech.  From what I have discovered from ‘Conflict and the refugee experience…’ so far is that many refugees leave Africa due to political events, crisis and violence. It seems although the political situations are being hidden in the media as I’ve researched why refugees are leaving the Horn of Africa and many past articles have simply put it down to drought and famine.

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Leyla Ali Adow, second from left, a Somali refugee who is pregnant, waited with others to be interrogated at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. 

A recent church shooting terrorist situation has lead to a mass security sweep in Kenya. Thousands of Somalian refugees are being swept up by the police and forced into overcrowded refugee camps. An article from the New York Times states that Police officers have entered homes and shops en masse, arresting hundreds of people, including women and children, and placing them on police trucks to take them to detention centres. “They don’t care if you have an ID card or not” claims a Mr. Abdulahi. 

Outside the gates of the camp families have commented to the press:

“My pregnant wife, 17-month-old child and sister are in there,” said Mahdi Ibrahim, 39, a refugee from Ethiopia. “This is the second time they come and arrest my family. Our refugee papers are valid.”

Ismail Osman, 63, a Kenyan citizen who is an ethnic Somali, said that police officers in his neighbourhood the day before had arrested his 32-year-old son, who has a mental illness and was not carrying identification.

“We don’t know where he is,” Mr. Osman said tearfully, showing his son’s Kenyan citizenship papers. “The process is confusing.”

Many of the refugees are terrified of being sent back to war-torn Somalia. What shocks me is that fellow Africans are not helping each other out through times of crisis, the corrupt police ethics are extremely concerning. The moral principles of humanity are shocking in these situations and I find it ultimately distressing.

Video insight to the situation and camps in Kenya available at Aljazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/03/kenya-confines-all-refugees-two-camps-2014325211245266713.html 

New York Times Article, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/world/africa/kenyas-answer-to-terrorism-sweeping-roundups-of-somalis.html?_r=0

Social Identity.

How do you think the role of photography in our culture is changing, when you think about how it is being used on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc? I’m particularly interested to hear your opinions on how you think photography, particularly self portrait photography, is being used to define an individual’s identity. How is our ‘identity’ constructed through the choice of photographs we post online? 

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/04/07/self_portrait

My Response:

As humans from early Greeks to modern day we have demonstrated an interest in self-exploration. Our current ‘selfie’ craze is a revolution, which reinforces our social identity over the Internet. Sociological research shows that humans are only capable of intimately knowing 150 people, due to social networking we feel we ought to share with more, as man is a social creature and the thought of loneliness drives us mad.

The problem being is we’re rapidly collecting online friends and not distancing quantity vs. quality. In a world where time is money and we are pressured to achieve more, when it comes to socializing it takes place in real life, in real time where you cannot control how you look or what you say. We’re obsessed with building an online persona so we can present ourselves as we want to be seen, we can edit and therefore delete. We can share pictures of when we look our best; it’s endless personal promotion.

However, sacrificing mere connection for conversation is what makes us feel lonely, we claim to have all these online friends but how many of them can you spend a day with, how many can you have a personal conversation with? We share to feel connected, to define ourselves and to feel less alone but in fact it’s doing the exact opposite as you loose physical human interaction.

Technology is rapidly changing who we are as we feel more and more lonely and vulnerable we turn to social media for what we believe to be stability, a controlled network of friends. Sharing a ‘selfie’, getting likes and comments makes one feel good about themselves but what is the actual value of this? We’re slowly forgetting how to physically interact socially face to face with one another, as we feel more comfortable hiding and controlling who we are via technology.