Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the #QuebecMosqueShooting.
My thoughts are with the families and community grieving at this time.
Below, I share my Instagram post from last year’s fifth anniversary.
At the time, in 2017, I was living in #AbuDhabi, #UnitedArabEmirates. The #UAE is a #Muslim country and 80% of its inhabitants are foreign nationals.
I am not Muslimah.
But, while there, I felt safe as both a #Black person and a #Christian. I felt safe to attend my #church weekly and visit others, meet with other #Christians to pray, and celebrate holidays. I experienced #MiddleEastern #hospitality with the dates and coffee in the entry ways of schools and hospitals. I felt a sense of respect and freedom to practice my faith as a Christian, that I hadn't felt in Canada. When I solo-travelled to Egypt, I saw links between the culture and things I read in the customs of Jesus and his contemporaries. Malaika means angel in #Swahili and #Arabic.
I did a lot of writing while in the UAE— poetry, short stories, books. Ideas 💡 for a third #Malaika3 book began to percolate the year before and gelled as I looked out my window and saw an orange disk in the sky and flat desert and dusty air all around.
When I heard about the #Quebecmosqueattack, I was devastated. I grieved for the families and #MuslimCanadians. Given that this tragedy happened in #QuebecCity where both #MalaikasWinterCarnival and #MalaikasSurprise are set, I wondered about how this event might have affected #Malaika and her family. How could it not. A mosque, like a church or any place of worship, should be a safe place.
I imagined that some of the men killed may have been fathers. I know that Malaika lost her biological father which I explore in Malaika, Carnival Queen. I would imagine that she had something in common with the children who lost their fathers on January 29.
Early versions of Malaika’s Surprise included the attack along with other topics. So big in scope for a #picturebook. I took it out and other topics to be addressed in #Malaika4 (2023). What stayed was Malayka M, a new #Somali Muslim friend for my main character who speaks #Arabic with her father.
You’ll notice the important roles of fathers in both Malaika’s Surprise and Malaika, Carnival Queen. You'll also notice the friendship between two girls of different languages, cultures, and faiths.
The character of Malaika M. was inspired in part by Somali journalist, Hodan Nalayeh. I met her shortly after my divorce. She had been through one as well. Feeling down, the sparkle she carried gave me hope that one day I would feel that way. She even said, "We should talk" about it. She made me feel that "everything be okay", which are the words that Malaika M. says to an anxious Malaika.
Thanks to my Beta readers and references— Rahma Rodaah, Fartumo Kusow, SK Ali, and Rabia Khokar. The latter three were or are teachers. #MalaikasSurprise has been selected on best booklists and nominated for a @ontariolibraryassociation #BlueSpruceAward.
#MalaikasSurprise has been selected on best booklists and nominated for a @ontariolibraryassociation #BlueSpruceAward.
There was so much that I wanted to say in this book that I had enough for two books. That second book 📚 became #MalaikaCarnivalQueen which comes out this May 2023.
May my books help readers to love one another and stand against hate.