In total there where 14 inspirational speakers at the Museum of Impossible Forms’ New Narratives Summer School, made up of academics, activist as well as artists. Even though all the presentations where relevant in one way or another, MeR chose to  share to five talks that most strongly concerned areas we focus on, namely, education and representation in children’s ( 0-18) culture.  A short summary of the remaining talks can be found at the end of this post.  To end the series we will feature one of our followers favorite topics – Books.

Abbyan Ali  an Afro- Swedish author who writes in Somali, English and Swedish presented her work to an interested audience. She decided to start writing and leave her time consuming career as an Ecomomist behind so that she could spend more time raising her two sons as a single mom. Since then she has never turned back.

Ali set about teaching herself illustration to combine with her stories and managed to succeed in obtaining a contract with BTJ. They have reviewed most of her books and as a result her work can be found in public libraries throughout Stockholm, a feat not all writers MeR features have managed to achieve. With her own publishing company, Abbilen Förlag, she produced her stories about the life experiences of Kugi, a boy who has one foot in Sweden and another in Kenya.

Book Review: Kugi loves Languages

Kugi and Guli are two Swedish brothers visiting their great- grandmother in Kenya.  Kugi Loves Languages tells a sweet and respectful tale of a few encounters of the mercantile kind in their great- grandmothers courtyard that differ greatly to the way they go about social and economic activities in Sweden.

They meet Ailandoo, the egg seller, who gives them each eggs as a welcome gift and for greeting him respectfully. They also meet the fruit seller, Mma Mbongo, who sells their grandmother delicious fruits they have never tasted before.

Cover Illustration from Kugi Loves Languages and where Ailandoo gives the Kugi and his brother eggs as a welcome gift.

In these encounters they understand little of the conversations that exchange between their great- granny and the sellers but learn that the languages used are Somali and Swahili. However, with the help of their grandmother and mother as translators Kugi learns that he enjoys learning new languages.

To help the reader remember and learn these words, a useful list with their origins can be found at the end of the story.  Generally speaking this is a generous and positive story that introduces several new cultural ideas through an everyday encounter in Kenya. Kugi Loves Languages is just one story that form part of the Kugi  Series which began with Kugi when he is a baby with  Kugi älska Alfabetet. Each book features a slightly older Kugi as he encounters life forming events.

Three of the titles from the Kugi series showcasing titles in Swedish and Somali


Ali’s books reach a broad audience and advocate for intercultural respect, tolerance and understanding. You can purchase Abbyan Ali’s books directly from her at a lower cost compared to online bookstores via her website as both e-books and print books. Otherwise borrow them from you local library!

A final nod to the Summer School

The New Narratives Summer School at MIF was an intense and “lärorik” experience that MeR is grateful to have been invited to attend. In an attempt to share some more of the knowledge with you, to follow are short descriptions with relevant links of the other presentations made:

  • Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur, an  activist (PAMOJA), curator, and currently a lecturer at Howard University (Washington D.C)  writing about the systemic silencing of the resistance by the African Diaspora during the 50’s in Vienna. She discussed the importance of (un)silencing as a means to allowing alternatives narratives take space in order to counteract systemic racism and other forms of marginalisation.  See more .
  • Trifa Shakey, told of her bold initiative,  Ain’t I A Woman, that worked to change Swedish legislation to protect un-document paperless woman from abuse. Read more .
  • Lawen Mohtadi,  told of her experience of her discovery of  legacy of Katarina Taikon hidden in the archives of the media agency she was working for at the time. Find out more , read the book, watch the film (based on the book).
  • Léo Custódio,  generates alternative media narratives of the Favelas of Brasil through his Media Activism initiative – Anti Racist Media Activist Alliance  (ARMA)- watch the film ,  see the website  and read the book
  • Adrian Perera spoke of the professional marginalisation he experienced at the hands of  various actors within the Swedish and Finnish literary circuit due to writing about the theme of immigration in his Poem White Monkey (Read it if you have not!).
  • Thuli Gamedze, Fine Artist and writer,  talked  about the experience of being a student during the Rhodes Must Fall movement which was the instigator to the well known Fees Must Fall action in South Africa that essentially concerned the need for a dominant black narrative all these years after apartheid- see more and more and almost all.
  • Breeze Yoko a prolific South African Street and Video Artist currently creating a superhero graphic novel drawing on an a-typical visual style and narrative routed in his personal aesthetic as well as African folk tales –  See more and more and follow.

Photgraphs: Speakers at the New Narratives Summer School left to right: Léo Custódio, Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur, Trifa Shakey, Thuli Gamedze, Detaik mural made by Breeze Yoko in Helsinki,  Lawen Mohtadi. Accesed from https://twitter.com/anaisdpedica and http://picbear.online/museumofimpossibleforms

Photograph of Abbyan Ali in the banner accessed from: Photograph of Abbyan Ali Accessed from: https://www.stockholmdirekt.se/kultur/abbyan-alskar-att-beratta-sagor/repqcn!5OcIid@v6er9C3HLYXc0w/