Yesterday evening at half past five journalist, debater and political chief editor at the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet/The Swedish Journal, Tove Lifvendahl was in Malmoe and the eastern suburb Rosengård to present her new book. “I rörelse: Möten i Rosengård 10 år senare”/In movement. Meetings in Rosengård 10 years later”. You see her in the photo above. Tove Lifvendahl has also been working as Senior Fellow at the liberal-green think smithy FORES, been Chief of Communications for Svenskt Näringsliv/Swedish Businesses and has been a Conservative politician. Ten years ago she lived for a while in the Malmoe suburb Rosengård and then interviewed 26 young people residing there about their background, good and bad experiences, life situations, dreams and ambitions. She then wrote the book: “Vem kastar första stenen: Om stenkastning och utlänningar på Rosengård”/Who throws the first stone: About stone throwing and foreigners in Rosengård. Since 2003 many things have happened, both good and bad. The situation in Rosengård isn’t easy. Some houses are neglected, prejudiced notions and hatred against immigrants flourish, high unemployment rates, but also ambition, lots of competent and intelligent people struggling to survive, and entrepreneurs of both sexes. The frustrating situation with unemployment, prejudiced notions, clashes of wills and cultures are complicating things. Now in 2013 Tove Lifvendahl comes with her sequel, “Meetings in Rosengård ten years later”. She has returned from her job in Stockholm to the now young adults in Rosengård and interviewed them again to see what has happened to them. Ten years ago they were teenagers many of them, and now more mature thinking young adults.
Last week I became friends on Facebook with Tove Lifvendahl and when I told her that I wanted to come to the book presentation she welcomed me. Yesterday afternoon I had been swimming to stay fit and afterwards went to Rosengård. As I arrived I met my former pupil Arbresha Momcilla, a now young woman who is working for the property manager MKB. Arbresha belongs to an Albanian family and I was teaching her and a few of her siblings in 1999 – 2004 when they were in lower-secondary school. It was nice to see her thriving and still ambitious. In the tent pitched up at Örtagårdstorget in central Rosengård a table was placed in one corner, and on it Lifvendahl’s books, some information leaflets about FORES, and food for the guests. I bought the latest book and Tove Lifvendahl signed it for me. I will with great interest read it. She had written on the commercial leaflet: “It’s a coincidence that looks like a thought that this piece in the debate about the society is released the same year as the Husby riots has been tormenting the country. But I would like to say this: If you want to understand why it’s burning in Husby the story about Rosengård 2003 is a good start. But if you want to know how to put the fires out, you will find more answers in Rosengård 2013”. Tove was walking around, talking to different guests, hugging people she knows, just as Arbresha gave me a hug when we met. My dedication and commitment to give her and the others quality those years ago seems to have left its trace.
Our Minister of Integration, Erik Ullenhag, (People’s Party the Liberals), also had come. This week he’s staying in Rosengård and is working from there to get a better insight into the suburb’s positive and negative aspects. It’s Ullenhag you see in the two photos above. Also his party fellow Jasenko Selimovic, State Secretary, is standing beside Ullenhag in one photo laughing. I was discussing with Erik Ullenhag a little and also with Jasenko Selimovic. Ullenhag was discsussing different aspects of integration, infrastructure and the importance of including all groups, both young, middle-aged and elderly, the old Malmoe and the new – to easen the conflicts. In his close vicinity I saw a couple of body guards in suits and small microphones by the ear.
After about half an hour of mingling Heidi Avellan, chief editor of the newspaper Sydsvenskan/the South Swede, entered a small stage and told us about Tove’s book. MKB and FORES also had been important in arranging this book presentation, and Avellan began interviewing Tove about her authorship and how she had got the idea with the book project. Lifvendahl told us readily and she gave us good insight into her will to contribute with a true description of what life is like in places like these. After a little while Tove Lifvendahl wanted to introduce some of the interviewees from the book. The first one was Anna Heide, a competent and beautiful young woman who now is working as CSR Chief at the property management company MKB in Rosengård. She started with MKB as trainee in 2002, two years later she got more responsibility and is managing many houses and areas in Rosengård. In 2012-2013 she became the new CSR Chief in the area. Anna Heide and MKB in Rosengård are also involved in the project “Malmoe – The True Story”. Then Tove Lifvendahl invited some even younger adults whom she had interviewed both now and ten years ago: Mandana Lalézar, Sevil Misirli and Amir Al-istarabadi.
Mandana is now working as group chief at IKEA and has been working with them during four years. Her parents came from Iran and when she was interviewed by Tove the first time she and Sevil were class mates in lower-secondary school at Apelgårdsskolan in Rosengård. She had been the hardworking, ambitious type already back then, and couldn’t see herself as a problem kid, as the prejudiced people like to see her and her loved ones as. Sevil Mesirli with her roots in the Balkans has been working on a luxuary yacht, but was treated like a slave and very badly, and decided to quit. Now she’s working in Stavanger, Norway and she likes it. That’s where the jobs and the money is, she says. Amir Al-istarabadi was ten years ago one of the bad guys, a small time criminal, throwing stones, stealing, creating disturbance and really far out. In his late teens he got the right support, was seen by good adults and friends, given the right support and a second chanse. Today Amir is a youth coach, has studied sociology at University and is now an educated social worker.
After Heidi Avellan had interviewed them all Tove Lifvendahl invited even more people involved in the book project on to the stage. They had participated in one way or the other. Finally Tove went around the stage and gave each one of them a book each. When all that was completed she began signing books for those who so wanted. As I left to go back home I pondered upon how well some of them had been doing, and it made me glad. The problems in Rosengård are there no doubt, and there are many aspects that must be dealt with both among the families who live there, attitude problems, the landlords who own the houses, the teachers and headmasters, but also by the police, the journalists, the Swedish society as such and our government. Erik Ullenhag as Minister of Integration and Jasenko Selimovic as State secretary have much to do and contribute with in order to make our society less problematic. We all have to participate in various ways. It’s our city, our province, our country and we all inhabit the same planet. Why not work on many levels similtanously? How would you like to contribute? If you want to comment my text, the situation, the future or the debate you might do that here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anders Moberg, September 26th 2013