An asylum seeker in Harold is demanding the right to be as moody and shambolic as the rest of the village. Ceaserina Okereke is seeking to put an end to stereotypes and have other Haroldites recognise that she is a confused mess who vaguely wonders what the purpose of it all is just like everyone else.
“People comment on how I’m always bright and happy as if that’s some trait every African woman has. Or if I’m feeling down and the kids are playing up then I’m a stern disciplinarian who is culturally unable to nurture and indulge her children. There is more to my thoughts and feelings than where I’m from or the colour of my skin.”
Lionel Garage, head of the Harold Independence Party, has close ties with the small band of asylum seekers who have made Harold their home as several of them pick crops on his farm.
“Voluntarily,” he stressed urgently to the Evening Harold. “I’m fully aware that it is illegal to employ asylum seekers, work them sixteen hours a day for a pound an hour and sack them whenever I like. That’s absolutely not what’s happening. Some people from overseas enjoy volunteering seven days a week and sleeping on mattresses in a converted shed six to a room because it’s more natural for them. They like being outside you see.”
“And they volunteer harder than any locals I could get. Plus they are always happy, well they are aren’t they? Less to worry about, simpler lives. Sometimes I wish I was an asylum seeker. I bet it’s relaxing.”
Ceaserina is not one of Garage’s volunteers but admits that she has found cash-in-hand work in the kitchens of a local café and struggles to be understood by her co-workers.
“I was a bit late the other day and couldn’t be bothered to concentrate and they all thought that something really serious had happened. When I told them I’d stayed up most of the night reading Game of Thrones fanfiction they were disappointed.”
Asked what message she’d like to impart to the people of Harold, Ceaserina said, “Please remember that just because someone wasn’t born here it doesn’t mean that they can’t be as trivial and feckless as someone who was.”
She then said that she had stuff to do but was probably going to watch Murder She Wrote, eat a family-sized bag of Revels and then have a snooze.