Sivu 38

europeanvoices Umayya Abu-Hanna A royal farewell I'm fascInated by the histories of strange individuals. Take the story of Nero, the Roman emperor who alleg edly ordered his mother's execution and "fiddled while Rome burned," or Czar Peter the Great, King Henry VIII and the numerous queens and sultans who spent their days poisoning their friends. Having the power while living in isolation is dif ficult in itself, but you can begin to suffer from personality disorders if all you hear is praise. If you lose your sense of reality, you can be ruined by the decisions you make. This phenomenon does not only apply to individuals: it can also affect entire cultures and nations. At the moment, Europe is at risk of catching a personality disorder: some are hearing only one voice and becoming paranoid of everything different. Ms. Merkel said this autumn that multiculturalism has failed, and nearly all politicians in western Europe have joined this chorus. Although the largest influxes of migration and refugees take place in third world countries, much of Europe still perceives multi culturalism as something new and threat ening. Someone has to stop us and say: "I beg your pardon, but do you remember what happened when Europe took the monoculture approach not so long ago?" But nevertheless, life continues to be fan tastic. Just when I thought that times were changing for the worse for immigrants, I got a personal wakeup call ­ in the form of an invitation to visit the Dutch Royal Palace for the Prince Claus award ceremo ny in midDecember. The theme of this year's awards is "Frontiers of Reality." "The fund has considered individuals and organizations whose exceptional performance not only challenges and changes the boundaries of our reality, but who, in doing so, contribute to the development of society," a statement from the Prince Claus Fund reads. While the rest of us will sit in awe, underneath the chandeliers and next to bouquets of royal flowers, Prince Friso will present an award of 100,000 euros to the Algerian publishing house, Barzakh Editions. Among the other It has been a joy to travel with you for nearly two years. awards presented are those in visual arts, literature and postcolonial archi tecture, with each recipient excelling in projects outside of the Western hemisphere. I'm not known to be a great royalist, but I now notice that this immigrant single mother has more in common with the Dutch royal family than with most European governments! Part of my holiday season will be spent in a place in which culture is about viewing life and the world with an open mind and soul. What a gift. dear reader, it has been a joy to travel Umayya Abu-Hanna is a writer, journalist and cultural diversity advisor for the Finnish National Gallery's research department. A Palestinian born in Israel, she moved to Finland in 1981 and will soon relocate with her daughter to Amsterdam. with you for nearly two years, to the ends of the earth and back. I am now starting a new phase in my life and thus will be leaving this arena. To all of you: the royal, the unemployed, the retired, the single mothers, the immigrants and the frequent flyers: the best gift one can get is seeing oneself mirrored in another human being. I wish that upon you. Wish me luck in my search for the perfect dress and shoes for the royal party, and, after that, a place of my own in the heart of Europe. 38 BLUE WINGS DECEMBER 2010

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