Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Review: Kiahan (A Tale Of Migration) by Carrie MacKinnon

Kiahan is a harrowing and informative tale about a 14 year old boy, who the comic is named after and based on.

Carrie met him in a detention camp in Calais; a place of squalid conditions, lacking in basic human rights. The comic is based on Kiahan and his brother's story along with other real testimonies and experiences of other migrant 'refugees and asylum seekers' who Carrie met.

Kiahan was born in Afghanistan, but when his father was killed by the Taliban, he and his brother fled the country and the comic chronicles their journey and attempt to make their way to the UK for asylum.

The comic highlights the exploitative people-smuggling trade, where Kiahan and his brother spend all their money to be packed into a truck with others and smuggled into countries that don’t want them, and the dangers of deportation, beatings or death that they face on the way.

When they reach Calais, Kiahan and his brother Amir try to claim asylum, but are separated when the authorities don't believe Amir is 17, and he is segregated with the adults into a different part of the camp.

It is here that the story is interrupted by a two page segment that uses quotes from those living in the terrible conditions in the camps, interspersed around Carrie's evocative and slightly surreal art which was inspired by the quote; "it was like dipping your toe in an enormous pool of lost people":


When Kiahan and Amir finally are allowed into the UK to live with a foster family; we then also see the prejudice they are subjected to in British society. The comic also conveys Kiahan's wish to not be pitied by others; he and his brother want to learn english, fit in, work and be a useful members of society. Without giving too much away, the story ends on an ambigous note.

Interspaced between the comic pages are text pieces that range from reports on the Calais shantytowns where Kiahan lived, to more general pieces of information on refugees, detention centres, and the 'No Borders' group; to whom Carrie is affiliated.

I found this to be a very moving and passionate work; both informative and personal. Carrie's use of subtle water-colour like shading adds a subtlety and mood to the art.

There are website addresses and contact information for a lot of different support groups involved with refugees in the book too, should you be inspired to get involved.

The comic is only £1 (+postage which is only 50p in the UK!). All the proceeds of the zine go to the 'No Borders' campaign.

You can get it via here

 Also here is a link to those who want to learn more about the issues and lend support: http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/

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