Review of Moving A Country by Jade Amoli-Jackson #RefugeeWeek
Our Book Club review this time is Moving a Country by Jade Amoli-Jackson
Jade Amoli-Jackson was born in northern Uganda. She studied journalism and worked as a sports reporter on Ugandan Television. Her sister, father and husband were killed in conflict in Uganda, and her children were abducted in January 2001 and are still missing. Jade escaped from military captivity and sought refuge in England in July 2001.
Moving A Country
Moving a Country is a relatively short book: 72 pages of prose and poems arranged in four sections that represent the refugee experience (Home, Flight, Arrival and Home), and take the reader from Jade’s early life growing up in Uganda; to the horrors she experienced before she escaped from the conflict in Uganda; to her arrival in the UK and trying to fit in; and, finally, to Jade embracing her new life and English culture in England.
If you had told me then that I would come to love British food, I would have said no way, but now I like the cuisine, tea and everything.
Jade’s talent for writing, and her strength, gentleness and humour shine through in her book and I sincerely wish I could do her writing justice in this review, but you really do have to read it yourself to appreciate how wonderful it is. All I can say is that I hope many people will read this book and begin to understand what the process of seeking asylum is like for people who are displaced, afraid, often alone, in terrible pain, and overwhelmed by grief.
And yet it’s not a wholly sad book by any means: there are many moments of humour and joy where I smiled or laughed out loud.
The Man With A Roving Eye – There was a man in my village who had ‘many eyes’ as they say. His ego earned him a spear in his backside.
I was riveted by Jade’s writing and I read the book in one sitting. Her pieces are eloquent and simply and beautifully written, and Jade has a wonderful way with words that perfectly conveys a powerful sense of place, and conflicting and changing emotions. I smiled and felt her joy in one paragraph or verse, then cried for her sadness in the next.
My children gave me strength but they were not to remain with me. They were abducted on 13th January 2001; to date I have had no news, although the Red Cross is looking for them. For four months I searched everywhere, and then I was also abducted with several other people, some of whom were shot dead. After two months of captivity, hardship, rape, hunger and burying friends, a soldier aided me and I escaped from my kidnappers.
Jade talks of the kindness she has received from the people who rescued her, and from therapists, support workers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and mentors –people who became her friends, and many of whom give up their time and money to work with refugees in the UK. But there is much still to be done to counter the negative refugee stories presented by the media and, as Lucy Popescu says in her introduction to Jade’s book, “This wonderful collection of Jade’s work directly challenges the negative press given to asylum seekers. Jade’s courage shines through her writing and pays testament to the strength of the human spirit.”
Refugee Week: Different Pasts, Shared Future
The launch of Moving A Country ties in with Refugee Week 17th to 23rd June 2013– a week in which the many ways refugees have contributed to and become part of our rich history and heritage are highlighted, celebrated, and acknowledged; and a better understanding of why people seek sanctuary is promoted.
RefugeeWeek.org.uk has a fascinating online timeline that documents the important contributions of refugees to our history & heritage in the UK from as far back as A.D/C.E. 208.
As part of Refugee Week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is encouraging people to imagine what it would be like if you and your family had just one minute to flee your home. What would you take with you?
They asked refugee families, celebrities and members of the public to contemplate this heart-wrenching decision, and you can read their stories and pin a picture of yourself with your most important thing on this Pinterest board.
Jade Amoli-Jackson’s story is one of many experienced by refugees in the UK, and her book is one everybody should read. Please buy it and read her wonderful prose and poems about what it’s like to be a refugee, to seek asylum, to lose everything and everyone you love, and arrive alone in a strange land with a body wounded by beatings, and your only worldly belongings being “a skirt, a blouse, a pair of sandals which were worn out, and torn knickers”.
Ignore the inflammatory and negative statistics and ‘news’ about refugees and asylum seekers in the UK spread by some; and read this instead. It will make you smile, laugh, weep and despair in turn. It will make you proud and grateful to the truly generous and kind people who helped Jade when she arrived in the UK; and it will open your eyes to the realities of life for some people in other countries.
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