It is flaming hot. The house behind us is rising up two levels and blocking the wind. Ja`far and Mubarak were able to build that house after their illegal immigration across the Mediterranean to Holland and Germany. Many young people from our neighbourhood did the same – as a result more houses are being built with money flowing from countries in the North. I always felt jealous. When many of my friends travelled overseas for work, I also wanted to immigrate across the Mediterranean to achieve my dreams. However, my destiny pushed me to a different spot.
Seven years ago I came to Egypt to start my university education. I was struggling to adapt. I was overwhelmed with a mixture of feelings: alienation, longing, and loneliness. I thought of giving it all up and returning home. But - home was not home anymore.
“The Home Seekers” explores my complex feelings. It reflects the lack of belonging felt by Sudanese refugees in Cairo and the racial discrimination felt every day in public places, in transportation or walking in the street. It’s difficult being Black in Egypt. People with black skin are stereotyped and labelled by the Egyptian media, which helps drive anti-Blackness in the Egyptian society.
I followed two Sudanese men on their journey of finding a home. “Ali” came to Egypt to escape the scourge of political persecution and economic hardship, but he ended up living on Cairo’s streets selling books, instead of immigrating to the country of his dreams. “Essam” is homosexual and has faced oppression in Sudan. His grandmother was the sole person who offered him a home and security. He left Sudan after she died and he was expelled from the family’s house. He thought he would find a tolerant society in Cairo but that was not the case. He thought of returning to Sudan, but finally his request to resettle in Sweden was accepted.