Re: “Kenyan nightmare over for Canadian”, August 16,2009, Lethbridge Herald     

I was detained for three days in Johannesburg and was told to leave South Africa in two hours in 1972.   I asked the Canadian Ambassador to find out the reason for my expulsion.  The First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Cape Town responded in his letter to my request, “As a guest of the Republic of South Africa, a Canadian of non-European origin is expected to respect the laws of the land.”   I guess the embassy assumed that I did something illegal, like using a “Whites Only” washroom.  

Hearing about the ordeal Suaad Hagi Mohamud in Kenya, and about the other similar incidents, I wonder if there is a pattern.  They are all names of “non-European Canadians.”  Ms Mohamud’s trouble was initiated by the Canadian High Commissioner’s office in Nairobi, who accused her of being an imposter and turned her over to the Kenyan authorities.   It was not the Kenyans who caused Ms Muhamed’s grief, as Mr. Harper alleged.  Or is this an evidence of an unspoken the two tier system of Canadian citizenship?   Ms Muohamud said in a interview with Diana Swain, “If I was a white person, I would not have been accused of being an imposter.”

However, there have been Canadians with Anglo-Saxon names who spent time unjustly in prisons overseas.   William Sampson and Brenda Martin were the names I remember, who, though they were innocent, languished in jails without the help from Canadian consular service.  But the difference between them and the Canadians with African or Arab names is that it was the Canadian authorities who caused their grief.    

In my case, as a result of an enormous pressure from the Church in Canada, Ottawa acted several years later.   In a letter of apology from Mr. Mitchell Sharp, I found the reason for my expulsion.   South Africans didn’t like the company I kept; Desmond Tutu was my teaching colleague in Theology.  I didn’t do or say anything subversive.  I am not that brave.  

I wonder if there are others like Ms Mohamud who have not appeared on the media radar screen.  I hope this is not a new trend because of “War on Terror.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *