Patrick O’Connor wrote about the achievements and current work of two former Otautahi residents, who are both Somali/Aotearoa dual citizens.
HASSAN HAJI IBRAHIM
Hassan was sufficiently respected by then Mayor Garry Moore ( 2001 ) to be commissioned on a 6mth project, with myself as volunteer supporter, to conduct the first ever in Aotearoa a metropolitan comprehensive demographic survey of the multi-cultural tapestry of a city — Otautahi.
The report involved researching 182 ethnic communities, CCC, NGO’S, Churches, Mosques, Temples, local body elected representatives and Members of Parliament etc about matters of cultural diversity.
The report was wide ranging and among many other recommendations presented to the Council were two of importance — (both endorsed by the Council to be established)
1) the establishment of the only, in Aotearoa, Multi – Cultural Advisor. This position was funded by and based at the City Council. The position involved, among many other roles, chairing the Refugee and Migrant Forum, now known as the Inform group. Inform still exists and continues to meet under the Chairpersonship of Claire Appleby Phillips from the City Council. This forum was and remains the only one in Aotearoa.
2) The establishment of the Intercultural Assembly . The Assembly met bi-monthly and was hosted in turn by a particular ethnic group in the city . This involved a talk, Q&A, food, music, dance and dress. Evenings were well attended and strongly supported by Garry Moore as Mayor and Mark Solomon as Kaiwhakahaere of Ngai Tahu. One of the chairs of this Assembly was Jimmy Chen who became a City Councillor for some years.
Upon completion of this project Hassan was appointed to a position with the Ministry of Education as coordinator of the South Island Ministry school ESOL programmers (English for Speakers of Other Languages) During his tenure access for Migrant and Refugee children to English language support programmers was significantly enhanced.
Hassan Haji always said whilst dwelling in Otautahi that he would return to his country of Somalia to become involved in his country’s development — a difficult challenge. This he has indeed undertaken.
Hassan risks his life daily in Mogadishu the capital city, and the rural areas, by being responsible for conducting workshops in democracy, election protocols and voting systems along with gender equity lectures and lectures at the University in community development.
This work is greatly contentious in an environment of sectarian / tribal terrorist activity where bombings and death are regular occurrences. Hassan is very appreciative of the time he spent in this city/country, the people he met and the skills and experience he gained.
His current kaupapa and bravery is testament to a fine much loved character. Hassan remains from afar via technology, an ardent supporter of the All Blacks and Crusaders .
AMINA ELMI FARID
The second former Otautahi resident to return to Somalia and contribute significantly to the development of her country is AMINA ELMI FARID.
Amina lived here until the mid-2000’s and made a significant impression in developing her Somali community and was highly committed to enhancing multi-cultural issues and matters of progressive diversity.
A charming woman with a strong academic background and bi-lingual fluency, Amina 3 days ago was appointed a Minister in the Regional Government of British Somaliland. This large region, rich in natural resources, is proceeding with autonomous Government during the Civil War and externally funded terrorism.
Amina’s portfolio is Minister of Industrial Investment for the region. This involves negotiating with countries globally about investing in Somalia and partnering to develop the rich natural resources the region/country has.
Somali current and historical politics are complex and Hassan and Amina are encouraged in their work by all that know them, and also appreciated very much for their respective contributions to our country/city