Somali-Brits After Mo

Reward: Farah gets stamp of approval as Brit hero
Reward: Farah gets stamp of approval as Brit hero
It's been a truly 'Mo-mentuous' year for Somali-Brits, what with Mo Farah's double Olympic gold exploits, a new-found confidence, and finally, a sense they are making meaningful contributions to a multicultural Britain. They all came out in their most colourful finery at Hilton Hotel in Paddington, west London to celebrate the Somali Achievement Awards.

The hall was an explosion of colour; yellow, orange, purple, violet, electric blue, red, green. You see, graphic and lines are so last season. Even the drums were a bright shade of red. Maryam Mursal, one of Somalia's most recognisable singers with collaborations with Peter Gabriel is orchestrating spontaneous sing-alongs everywhere you look with her rousing hit, Kufilaw (Take care). The awards, in their fourth year is organised by Haya, a Somalian community organisation out to show the world the new face of Somalia. Not the basket-case, pirate-ridden, war-torn, warlord-led fractitious nation the media is ready to broadcast eternally.

GALLERY:  Somali-Brits

Bright future: Somali immigrants have lofty dreams in Britain | WLT
Bright future: Somali immigrants have lofty dreams in Britain | WLT

Rashid Jama, one of the brains behind the annual extravaganza brims with excitement as he talks about the awards which has 14 categories. He believes the award winners also become role models for the young ones. "We wanted to correct the negativity and recognise the volunteers and high achievers." He jokes they couldn't get Mo Farah on the bill because "he is now a very busy man". And if betting odds are to be a form guide, then the country famously known as the 'Horn of Africa' might soon be getting its first-ever knighted Somali-Brit by Her Majesty, the Queen. Just like Mo the long-distance runner, the country has come a long way.

A country once regarded as unstable and ungovernable, that even the United Nations had to concede its failure at fostering peace and the rule of law. The first time it had had to withdraw from  a country. Then UN secretary-general, Boutros Boutros Ghali, said: "This is a new situation in the UN's history. Until now the UN has not withdrawn from a country without accomplishing its task.

"But without the political will of the protagonists we cannot impose peace. We have tried for three years in Somalia and we have not succeeded."

Funnyman: Prince Abdi is proud to be British | WLT
Funnyman: Prince Abdi is proud to be British | WLT
A new generation of Somali immigrant has however found its voice in cosmopolitan London, jokes and laughs at his roots, stereotypes and foibles. One of them is emerging British comedy talent, frizzy-haired Prince Abdi, he soon gets the whole hall in stitches throwing funny sketches around at their expense. An advice to concerned bystanders and the uninitiated is not to be alarmed at the raised voices of two Somalis on the street. They are not about to break into a brawl, they are just animated and happy to see each other. He says of the awards, "This is good, I think it is positive and it's growing."

He reflects on the troubles, "Somalians have always been tough people." He mentions their stoicism in the face of American drones and wants the world to realise they are just as normal as other lands.

Abdi is happy to be British and Somali. He says even though Mo Farah wore British colours at the Olympics, he is still very well regarded in Somalia. "He is a Somalian," he says without hesitation. He regards his own Britishness with pride, "This is where I grew up. I will be the best citizen I can be, pay my taxes and obey the laws." Abdi believes every new wave of immigrant community are frowned upon and it takes time to be accepted. "There is progress," he signs off with a big smile.

Things You Didn't Know About Somali-Brits

  1. Olympic double-gold medalist, Mo Farah has a twin brother who still lives in a small village in Somalia.
  2. Rageh Omaar, author and television news presenter. Formerly BBC news correspondent who found fame covering the Iraq invasion, he moved to  Al Jazeera English, where he currently presents the nightly weekday documentary series Witness.
  3. Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid,  international fashion icon, supermodel, political activist, actress and entrepreneur, known as Iman and married to British rock singer David Bowie.
  4. Abdirashid Duale is the award-winning Somali entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the CEO of the multinational money transfer service, Dahabshiil.
  5. They love it in the West. You are most likely to bump into them in Southall, Wembley, Hayes, Shepherd's Bush, North Kensington and Acton.