Recently, I've been thinking about the wind of change, which is blowing across the world. Now that the U.S. elected the first black president - who now sits in the highest office in the world, how long would it take countries in Europe to follow suit? While the world expects the first black Head of government in Europe to emerge from a country (such as France, Britain and Germany) with a relatively long history of people with mixed European and African descent - sometimes referred to as Afro-Europeans, my attention is focused on Sweden, despite the recent increase in "White Power" groups and outright violation of civil rights in the Scandinavian country. This might come as a surprise to you because you probably think Sweden would be one of the last countries in Europe to have a person of African descent occupy the highest office in the land - Office of the Prime Minister.
There's a black woman who stands out in the blonde Swedish government - her name is Nyamko Sabuni (see picture above), she is Sweden's Minister of Intergration and Gender Equality and she makes no secret of her ambition to be Sweden's first black Prime Minister (Sveriges Statsminister).
Nyamko Ana Sabuni, 40 (as of today), is currently serving as a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. She is a member of the Liberal People's Party and became Sweden's first black minister on October 2006. She was born in Bunjumbura, in Burundi, where her father lived in exile from Zaire (DR. Congo). Her family was granted political asylum in Sweden in 1981 (she was 12). Sabuni grew up in north of Stockholm and got married to a Swede. Some would argue that she is not "Swedish" enough, but her political career so far has been commendable.
Politically, Sabuni's position has earned her death threats and round-the-clock security, but she has refused to be silenced. She has called for a ban on veils for muslim girls under 15 years old and compulsory gynaecological checks to protect girls against genital mutilation (female circumcision). Needless to say, more than 50 muslim organizations have accused Sabuni of being islamphobic. Whether this is true or not, is not my point of interest.
Contrary to what many people think, statistics show that Sweden has a more generous approach to immigrants and asylum-seekers, compared to many countries in the European Union (EU), including the UK. Sweden has taken more Iraqi refugees than any other country in the EU - an acceptance rate of 90% compared to the UK's 12% (just for the record).
When Barack Obama claimed victory in November 2008, he said in no other country on earth is his story even possible. Could this be true? Is it impossible for a person of African descent to be in the realm of political power in a European country?
If there is to be a black Head of government in Europe in general and Sweden in particular, education, complete integration and positive action to promote equal opportunity would be key. As if this is not enough, the emergence of a large and powerful black middle class in the continent is premodial.
Do I expect to see a black Head of Government in Europe in my lifetime? Absolutely!!
Call me a dreamer, if you will, but remember - a great American once said, "... there has never been anything false about hope."
The wind of change is blowing across the globe - it is only a matter of time before it takes Europe by storm, whether we like it or not! The first black Prime Minister or Head of government in the continent could already be in the making.
Go On! Emerging Humanitarian Frontiers Conference - For those of you in the Washington, D.C. area June 1-2, the American Red Cross will be hosting a 2-day conference entitled Emerging Humanitarian Frontiers ...
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