He has no rights to disability benefits, so I support him. When I bought presents for Shyne’s family in Zimbabwe they received them modestly, before putting them to one side without unwrapping them.Later, Shyne explained that they’d never received wrapped presents before, and had no idea what to do with them.But without all this opposition, I wouldn’t have followed Jimmi to Iraq, we wouldn’t have married, and we probably wouldn’t have had Freya. She lives in east London with her husband, Shyne Phiri, 41, a Zimbabwean choreographer. An everyday incident in Africa, the death of a child.Maybe we’d still be those carefree kids going clubbing. Their daughter, Zayla Malaika, was born in April Shyne and I met in Malawi in 2008, working on a touring theatre project about the Zimbabwean crisis. I recall my tears falling on to piles of frustrating paperwork. We married a few months later on my home island of Jersey.I’d seen him around: a smiley fellow, I thought, though we hadn’t spoken much.
Back in Britain, I did a TEFL course so I had an excuse to return to Chiang Mai to see him.
In Bataa’s family the women milk the animals and take care of the household and children, while the men do the lion’s share of the herding.
It’s all very harmonious; and female children are prized, and educated, as much as boys. I was surprised by how well Bataa adapted to British life.
But I learned that Karen culture is more equal in terms of gender politics and frowns on such practices.
When we met, though, I was a party girl, but only as much as any young British woman is.I hadn’t intended to get pregnant in Iraq, but I was overjoyed when I did. My Kurdish wasn’t good enough to talk to Jimmi’s female relatives about the changes I was going through and I couldn’t communicate through Jimmi, as Kurdish women don’t talk about women’s matters in front of men. So I came back to England, heavily pregnant, praying I could find a way to get Jimmi back here. When I calmed down, I realised how unusual it would be if an African man in his mid-thirties hadn’t fathered children.