Ubah in prison, which translates from Somali to ‘flower in prison’, tells the journey of a Somali family settling in the UK after fleeing the civil in their home country. Whilst arriving in the safety of a free Western country with the conflict behind them, they feel both motivated to benefit for the opportunities of a "free" society and imprisoned by the new challenges they face. Challenges of finding work, distrust of social workers and children lost in the system. In a flashback during the play, Ayaan who is widowed by the Somali civil war and her teenage son Yusuf, land in the UK, with a greeting from a customs officer “welcome to Dover”. This is perhaps the starting point for many refugees starting a new life and the end of their ordeal.
The play put together by Side Eye Productions to coincide with World Refugee Day serves as a window to a refugee family’s experience. From the anxiety of being accepted by the Home Office mixed with comical moments of rehearsing their story for the immigration officers, to the harsh realities of your previous profession of being a nurse not amounting to anything.
Whilst the play is in its early stages of development you can appreciate a high level of authenticity and integrity in the community-led play. In the end you are left with Ayaan’s defiant message. Whilst many have welcomed Ayaan and her son to her new home, there are those who think she should go back, “they think I am here for a holiday, but I am here to stay. And I will fight for my son.”
This is definitely a play to watch out for.
Review: Sayid Ali