I was born in Somalia in 1989 and we moved to Kenya in 1991. We came to the United Kingdom, London, in 1993 so when we came here I was still very young. I have absolutely no recollection of Somalia or Kenya or even the journey here.
I came here with my mum, some of her siblings and my sister Fatima, who is one year older than me and my older half-brother. It was a full house of kids and my mum was the only adult. She was responsible for all of us.
My first memory that I have of being in the UK is my fourth birthday party, and by that time most of my adult relatives had joined us here. It was the first time I remember celebrating with my family and it being a really beautiful, positive gathering. Because my mum was under so much pressure it was very difficult for us to have fun so this was the first time that we got to celebrate.
We had no restrictions and we were allowed to eat what we wanted and play and laugh and joke and dance. I was wearing a beautiful puffy golden dress and a golden hairband to match. And I don’t know why my mum put my sister and my cousins, who were roughly the same age, in black dresses.
It was like the bridesmaids all wearing black and the bride sitting in the middle with a big gold dress. We recorded it as a video so every time we would get together we would play that birthday video. In most of the pictures I wasn’t even smiling because I was annoyed that people were touching my dress.
I was getting frustrated - I just wanted them to sit close to me but not touch me but I, genuinely I was so happy and more importantly than that, it was the first time I actually remember seeing my mum happy. She survived war, she survived her child being shot, her one year-old, while she has a new-born, by herself. My father left my half-brother with my mum, most of her family were living in Kenya and then a war broke out.
Honestly, I feel like all of those struggles and tribulations gave her supersonic strength, to be able to deal with hardship. She’s not really someone who shows a lot of emotion. She’s a very pragmatic, practical person.
Had she dwelled on her emotions I don’t think she would have survived. I think she would actually have lost her sanity. I aspire to be like her, or even a fraction of the woman she is.
We moved a lot as children. We lost count of how many times we moved houses, some of them we lived in for such a short time and we didn’t even unpack. I didn’t really mind moving house. I minded moving schools.
You get attached to your peers. You get attached to your teachers and familiarity and you need that stability so I think I went to at least four primary schools. I don’t actually remember beginning Salusbury World.
In my memory it was just something that was part of my primary education. I definitely remember the smell. It smelt different to the rest of the school.
It smelt really homey - safe, comfortable. It’s almost the same feeling as kids get when they go home and they kick their shoes off and they jump on the sofa. I genuinely loved coming so much and it was something that I got to experience with my sister as well.
My mum doesn’t want to go back and I don’t blame her because she remembers. She was absolutely traumatised and I think every time something happens, particularly in Somalia and Mogadishu, it puts her off even more.
I personally really do want to go back, not necessarily to live. I follow a few pages on Instagram about Somali history and Somali heritage. It’s just so beautiful and it’s also really heart-breaking because I feel like in a sense we were deprived of that, we were deprived of that and I don’t know if in my lifetime I will ever get to experience that or my children ever get to experience that.
I’m British, I was raised here and really in actuality it’s all I know. But when someone says ‘where are you from?’ the first thing that comes to my head is always Somalia, and I know for a fact Somalis pride - it doesn’t matter what’s happening in their country - they will always take pride in saying ‘you know you are Somali, never, ever, ever, forget that’. We’ve lost our land, we’ve almost lost our country.
If we don’t embed it into our children they are Somali, they will lose everything, and that’s your heritage, that’s your blood. I would say if there’s anywhere on the face of the earth I call home is London. After I finished my A Levels I did my NVQ in Childcare Learning and Development and I worked in the early-years field for around five years but I’ve always been more of an academic educator.
I’d really love to support children more with pastoral care or some sort of therapy. I’m not sure how, when, where I’m gonna do that but that is what I want to gravitate towards in the next few years, definitely.