By Catherine Besteman
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Additional info for Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine (Global Insecurities)
Because so many women were weeping openly as they listened, I asked if we should turn off the music. No! they protested, insisting they wanted to hear it to enjoy the memory of marriage rituals in the village. 10 Iman Osman as a baby in his mother’s arms in Banta, 1987. Photograph by Jorge Acero. 11 Iman Osman as a teenager in Lewiston, 2008. Photograph by Elizabeth Milliken. 12 Daliya sifting corn, Banta, 1988. Photograph by Jorge Acero. 13 Amina Cabdulle and Binti Caliyow Isaaq, Banta, 1988.
9 Sheikh Axmed Nur, Banta, 1988. Photograph by Jorge Acero. Daliya’s daughter arrived and burst into tears upon discovering our portrait of her dead mother sifting corn. Everyone started naming those captured in the portraits: Ganuun is dead. Although Caliyow Isaaq is dead, his only surviving wife, Jimcoy, is in Maine. One of his other wives, Amina, is dead, but their daughter Binti, caught on camera as a delightfully happy baby, now lives in the United States. Matan Garad is dead but his son Abdulkadir, who as a teenager worked as my field assistant collecting harvest information and measuring farms, now lives in Lewiston as a married father of eight.
I phoned Abkow and Sadiq with my concerns, but they responded that everyone wanted to see the photographs, even though some of those featured might be dead, stressing that the photographs of their past lives would not add any more trauma to what people had already endured. Rather, everyone was eager to see the photographs and to remember their lives before the war. As we prepared our slide show, our anxiety mounted as we wondered whether we would be able to remember everyone accurately, whether people might come whom we were not expecting, whether there would be rage, tears, despair.