traditional berry and cream cake
I do not know why Annikki or I were invited to "the do" of yesterday evening.
Annikki was recovering from a fever, so I attended, alone.
The reception was for foreigners who had obtained Finnish nationality.
I have not obtained Finnish nationality.
When I needed it, way back in 1994, I applied for it.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki sat on the application for several years. Out of the blue many years later, I had a call from the Department to submit a new language certificate as they could not trace the old one or the one I had submitted was in some way not appropriate.
However, by that time I had no need for Finnish nationality as Finland was already a member of the European Union, and I could travel freely without a visa to any country in the EU, except England and Ireland, based on my Finnish residence permit. As two of our kids are British and live in the UK, there would be no need to take Finnish nationality for a single visa!
So I informed the Department that I did not need Finnish nationality.
Not a peep from them for several years.
Then, again, I was asked the same question.
I gave the same reply. No need for Finnish nationality.
After a few more years I was asked by the Oulu Police to pick up the decision about my application for Finnish nationality - 10 years after the original application.
I informed the Police that I did not need the decision!!
So I did not get my Finnish nationality.
Many think that getting Finnish nationality is like getting a gift from the Almighty. I had no such feelings as I am a world citizen and owe no loyality to any one nation. The Passport is only a travel document to enable me to live and move freely and whether it is a permanent residence visa or a nationality it is, in my mind, no different.
Imagine this fabulous efficiency of the Foreign Affairs Department. 10 years to process an application!
Maybe it has improved now!!
That said, Shahnaz Mikonen of the Oulu International Centre, Toppelius, thought that as a long-standing member of the foreign community in Oulu, I should be invited, as I usually invite her for all the events we organise.
There were about 55 people who attended. Represented were 12 countries. Considering that there are over 2000 foreigners from 99 countries in Oulu, this low turnout is symptomatic of a message not getting through to the international community.
Albania, China, Finland, Ghana, Germany, India, Iran, Morocco, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Vietnam.
Many of the bureaucrats and politcians who work with foreigners were present. I recognised several of them, although I have not seen them for many many years. Marja-Leena from the Oulu Foreigners Department of the Oulu Police and Kylliki from the Oulu Social Office dealing with Foreigners were among those present.
Some foreigners were dressed in their national costumes, such as this beautifully adorned couple, Mr. & Mrs. Pasawaly Edward from Sudan.
Shahnaz (from Iran) and her husband, Yrjö, were dressed in some fine Chinese Brocade.
Master of ceromonies was Patrick Dickson and the Chief Guest was the Assistant City Manager, Päivi Laajala.
There were a few Mozart renditions with flute played by Annaleena Puhto and guitar played by Illkka Virta.
A couple of Spanish Flamenco dances by Kaija Moilanen and Heidi Porali were also part of the programme.
The speeches by the two participants, Susanna, who had just received her Finnish citizenship this year and Gizella Taurianen, one of the long-established citizens of Oulu, were both touching and added some cultural value to the event.
I am still wondering why I was invited. Anyway, thank you, Shahnaz, for having me at the wonderful evening!