The power of a story.

WANJIKU WA NGUGI’S life is not just fascinating, it’s also inspiring. Wa Ngugi was born in Kenya surrounded by a storytelling culture and family members that were constantly gobbling up books because “that’s all we ever really did, we all just read brutally at home.” Though she studied political science and sociology at New York University literature was always her calling. Thus she began working as an editor for the American publishing house Africa World Press (AWP).

Nils Erik Forsgård believes it’s time for the Finland-Swede community to stop acting like a hedgehog and open their culture to change.

SITUATED near the corner of Helsinki’s Annankatu and Boulevardi, the interior of the Swedish-language think tank Magma offers some remarkable contrasts. A large window frames the office of Magma’s director Nils Erik Forsgård, overlooking the graves scattered around Ruttopuisto (aka Plague Park). A glance into an adjacent room reveals a wall adorned with a disturbing photo of a woman, completely submerged by water.

Carrying on the tradition of old school blues.

IT sounds like the set up of a well-worn joke: a Scotsman, a Finn and an American walk into a bar. Yet, for Robbie Hill & The Blue 62’s, their punchline is that their unlikely ingredients together create remarkable, authentic blues. Based in Helsinki, the band consists of Robbie Hill, the front man, singer and guitarist; Tatu Pärssinen, the drummer and also an architect; and Jesse King, the bass player who also manages a surf shop in Helsinki.

Abdirahim “Husu” Hussein is intent on creating a positive relationship between Finns and immigrants.

HAVING arrived here as a teenager in the mid-‘90s from Mogadishu, the environment Abdirahim “Husu” Hussein was greeted with was vastly different to the one he lives in now. This was a Finland that had rarely opened its doors to immigrants since gaining independence from Russia in 1917. This was a Finland that had no immigration policy, no concern over their aging population; there was no fear from the fringes about losing their jobs, women or culture to a wave of newcomers.

Risking it all to have a voice.

I was apprehensive to meet this mysterious man who 16 years ago had fled Iraq in fear of his life. Before we met I wondered if there would be many difficult walls to break down when we tried to have a conversation together. Would he be as dark as his gruesome stories, with no such thing as a happy ending?