THERE’S been a lot of positive messaging coming from minority ethnic communities recently. Northern Ireland tacitly agrees that the region is experiencing a positive population boom of foreigners.
It defies Enoch Powell's very outdated Rivers of Blood speech which the former Tory politician made in some irritating, tiny but charismatic voice. In that speech, which was deliberately hoping to ignite an aggressive national debate against migrants, Powell's main mission was to expose multiculturalism as a total failure. Piecing together the growth of migration into the North today, Powell would be turning in his grave, perhaps sad because the community is welcoming new immigrants.
The people of the North also acknowledge the immense know-how in technology, banking, medicine and other crucial areas that are changing the face of the country. We can say that these changes are without a doubt positively changing many lives. Some of the top surgeons here, like the soft-spoken Luke Ogonda, who arrived from Kenya over 30 years ago, have proved the Powellites wrong.
A country does not explain its history and place on the map of the world by continously playing the old record of migrants this migrants that, a popularity contest aimed at embarrasingly explaining economic and social problems within our midst.
Yes, there are ongoing challenges both local and international that come with transnational recruitment of workers. A report by the BBC came out this week claiming nurses coming to the UK from Ghana, for example, are denying their citizens back in Africa adequate medical services by coming here in big numbers. They are earning seven times what they get in Ghana, so its a no-brainer.
Let the Ghanaian nurse go wherever he or she wants. The moral question will come later after African governments have decided that enough is enough – let us pay better salaries to our nurses so they don't ‘abdicate’ their responsiblites wherever they come from. We cannot continue to talk about brain drain and pull factors of migration in the same sentence when we know that this person has taken a life-changing decision to move away from the place they love to a strange new environment that they must adapt to, whether they like it or not.
• Lindsay Duke, an African film producer living in Belfast, has worked hard and smart to deliver a docufilm, ‘Black, Northern Irish and Proud’. The title speaks for itself.
The pioneering film was shown on May 25 at Queen's Film Theatre. The hall was packed with a very diverse section of the community. One of the leading voices in the film is a young sharp-as-a-razor literature graduate, Njambi Njoroge. On the post-film panel, Njambi explained how she uses her creative writing to influence her immediate surroundings and beyond. She believes in alternative literature as a method of challenging, speaking out and reaching out to audiences.
Away from literature and public campaigns, Njambi is a keen semi-professional photographer who loves to picture the human form. She hopes to continue to feature her portfolio in addressing diversity.
Lindsay Duke is currently researching and filming a documentary about the award-winning musician Finley Quaye.