Kapitel 2: Schwarze Frau, weißes Land
Chapter Two: Black woman, white country
Now I started to worry. How was I supposed to find a hotel in which I was booked under a wrong name that I didn’t know. By now, I was so confused that I wasn’t even sure about the hotel chain anymore. There was a long queue of taxis parked in front of the hotel. I walked up to one of the drivers standing outside and addressed him.
Excuse me sir, I cannot find my hotel and I only have ten Euros with me, I tried to explain my desperate situation. Do you think you can help me find it? I think it’s a Sofitel close to a EU building.
The driver laughed. Could you be any less precise? I am sorry, but I cannot drive you to all hotels in Brussels for free. I can offer to drive you to the next police station, though.
Well, ok then, I agreed. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. At the police station I was safe and they would probably be able to help me. And in the worst case, it would at least be possible to spend the night there. The driver drove me up to the station and offered to come inside with me since many policemen did not speak English very well, as he told me. I was very thankful and he went inside with me and explained my situation to the Flemish officers in French. They did not seem very interested in the story of my Algerian driver however, and I had to wait for quite a while before one of them finally addressed me.
You’re documents! Passport! He barked. I had nothing with me.
My name is Waris Dirie. I was invited by the European Union to speak at the Council tomorrow. My documents are all in my hotel room…
…which you cannot find anymore, yes, sure, he completed my sentence and looked at me as if I had just told him I was the pope and couldn’t remember where I had parked my Papamobil.
I think it’s best for all of us if you just leave now and don’t cause any more trouble, otherwise I’ll have to inform the immigration office.
I was speechless. This was not the reaction I had expected.
But listen, I am a well known author and human rights activist…!
This is enough. Leave now, immediately!
I think it’s better if we leave now, the taxi driver said. He looked worried. Otherwise we will get into trouble here. To be honest I am not too keen to pick a fight with the police.
Back outside the men got back into the car.
I am really sorry, but I have to support a family and I really have to continue working now and make some money tonight, he said and shrugged. Then his taxi disappeared into the night. I could not believe what had just happened. There I was, in the middle of the so-called capital of Europe, invited by the European Union, and was treated like an illegal migrant. Without my passport I was just a black woman asking strangers for help. All the money I had made, all my successes did not change the fact that right now I had just as little as 25 years ago when I lived in the streets of London as an illegal African immigrant.