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"Wixii qoran baa quruumo hadhee, muxuu hadal qiimo leeyahay." Somali
"Words fly, but scripts stay - for centuries." English

Bristol MPs speaking at the launch of the Somali cultural exhibition

Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West, and Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, speaking at the launch of the #Somali cultural exhibition, ‘Somalis in Bristol: Where are we from and who are we now?’ at the M Shed.

#CharlotteLeslie MP: “Ignorance makes people fearful. When actually – when people get to know each other – the ways in which we’re different is magnificent and enriching. And actually there are so many ways we are exactly the same.”

Thangam Debbonaire MP: “Part of what makes Bristol great is our cultural life, another part of what makes Bristol such a wonderful place to live is our diversity.”


Bristol mayoral election: Inner-city voter predictions

BSMG — As the polls closed for the PCC, mayoral and councillor elections, we asked inner-city voters what did they think about the elections and their predictions for the results – which will be announced on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Most of the inner-city voters we approached agree that the mayoral election is going to be a two-horse race. They believe if Marvin Rees is to be elected, he must win the first round of the counting; but if it goes to a second ballot George Ferguson will get elected.

Mohamed Youssuf, Ashley resident: “Bristol is a fractured city and it isn’t ready to elect a BME mayor yet.”

Fuad Taarwale, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “George Ferguson will win the mayoral election because the inner city wards, where BME [Black, Minority and Ethnic] and Labour voters mostly concentrate, have always had the lowest turnouts.”

Mohamed Abdi Sayaqle, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “Labour will retain [its minority] in the council, but George will win [the mayoral election] again because Labour doesn’t seem to have the tenacity to put Marvin in office.”

Mohamed Mohamoud, Ashley resident: “I think George Ferguson is going to come back as Marvin wouldn’t be able to win the first round of the count and because the majority of the people do not vote … Secondly, I believe the only thing that George got it right was the [controversial] Resident Parking Zone [and that is why he is going to be re-elected].”

AbdiHakim Asir, Lawrence Hill resident: “I would love to see Marvin win because he understands the issues faced by people living in our area [Lawrence Hill], but it’s likely that George will come back because of his record.”

Saed Ali, Lawrence Hill resident: “It’s very difficult to predict the results of the Bristol mayor election. If Marvin doesn’t get 50% of the votes, he will struggle [to win a second ballot]. But it seems that he will be our mayor for the next four years, because of the way that Labour worked through the campaign – and London could have its very Black mayor.

Recently we have seen two miracles:  Jeremey Corbyn (200/1) was crowned as the leader of the Labour party and Leicester City (5000/1) won the premier league. Therefore, I wouldn’t get surprised if Mayor Festus Kudehinbu (200/1), a taxi driver, becomes our next mayor.

Locally, Margret Hickman and Hibaq Jama will be re-elected [as councillors for Lawrence Hill] because of the Somali vote – and Mahadi Sharif is going to be the first Somali councillor in Manchester.”

Abdul Ahmed, Lawrence Hill resident: “My slogan is Marvin4Mayor. Not that I have a lot of expectations from him, but Marvin as a person is a change. Change in terms of the leadership of this city and in terms of the history of this city and the country. A black man filling the highest position of this city must inspire our hopeless youngsters – especially boys.”

Muhsin Baasey, Lawrence Hill resident and Labour voter: “I voted for Marvin and if he doesn’t get 50% of the votes, it will go to a second ballot which is going to be George’s. Consequently, it does mean that Bristol want George to finish the job he has started.”


Third Generation Welsh Somali Plaid Cymru Politician Gearing up for Victory – Election 2016

Abdi Mohamed – Voting has already started across Britain this morning. And the Somali voters in Cardiff, the Welsh Assembly elections will certainly give them opportunities to improve political participation and influence change. Moreover, it will empower them feel belonging, included in mainstream society as one of their beloved sons is strongly campaigning – though he is going to be a Councillor candidate in May 2017 – for a party that they have never been associated with or voted for.

Cardiff is home to a long standing Somali community who play a huge role in the life of the city. They have lived in the city since the 1850s and have served the armed forces, the NHS, schools and education institutions, service providing agencies and the voluntary sector. However, political participation has been a challenge which they could now overcome with the help of one young man. (more…)

Mahadi Sharif: Torch-bearer for Manchester youth and British Somalis – local elections 2016

“We must give young people a voice; I’ll make sure that their voice is heard. Their main concern is the lack of youth centres in the city. Equally, I’m committed to working with schools to ensure that they are preparing our children the world out there.”

Abdi Mohamed – For Mahadi Sharif, the upcoming local elections are not only about improving political participation. It is, and more importantly, about embarking on a political career. But for many Somalis in Manchester it is about electing the first Somali councillor, who would in turn enable them gain access to the local decision making platforms. 

Somalis don’t want favour, but demand ‘fair treatment’

Abdi Mohamed – On the evening of the 5th of April, many people patiently queued up to enter the City Academy‘s Fielden Theatre to attend the Bristol mayoral question time on race equality organised by Black South West Network (BSWN) and Up Our Street in association with BCfm Radio. The striking feature of the hustings was not about how the 250 capacity seated was filled, nor was it about the non-partisan organisers’ outstanding event planning skills and experience, nor was it about the eloquence of the chair, but it was about the quality of the questions and the answers given by the mayoral candidates.


Audience – Bristol mayoral question time on race equality

The prospective mayors tried their best to answer a range of questions about education, employment and housing, amongst many – vis-à-vis with tackling inequalities – apart from a very simple question about the single largest BME group in Bristol.


Codkaagu yaanu ku ciilin; dooro qofka dantaada ka shaqeynaya – Doorashooyinka Bristol May 2016

Tafatire (Editor) – Dadka reer Bristol waxay 5ta May u dareerayaan doorashadii maayarka ama Duqa Magaalada, waana markii labaad ee ay doorasho noocan ahi dhacayso – waxa kale oo isla maalintaa la dooran doonaa 70ka xildhibaan ee golaha deegaanka iyo hoggaamiyaha ciidanka amaanka (Police Crime Commissioner) ee gobolka Avon & Somerset. Haddaba bulshada qaar ka mid ah ayaa maalmahanba isweydiinayay habkan maayarnimadu siduu u shaqeeyay ama wax u qabtay, isbedel intee leeg ayuu keenay iyo hogaamiye noocee ah ayay u baahanyihiin in ay doortaan.

Bristol waxay maayarkii ugu horeeyay dooratay 2012kii, laakiin habkan maamulka maayarnimadu wuxuu keenay fursado iyo caqabado labadaba. Habkani wuxuu golihii siyaasadda magaalada laga hagayay ka dhigay mid ka maddaxbanaan isqabqabsigii iyo xafiiltankii xisbiyada siyaasiga ah. Dhinaca kalena, wuxuu bulshada deegaanka ka caawiyay in ay ogaaadaan oo gartaan cida magaalada ka talisa taasoo aan hore u dhici jirin. Warbixin sannadkii hore (2015) ay soosaartay jaamacadda Bristol ayaa sheegtay in “maayarkii dadku tooska u doorteen uu isbedel weyn ku sameeyay muuqaalkii hoggaanka magaalada.” Dhinaca kale marka laga eego, maayarkii la doortay wuxuu hoos u dhigay awoodii xildhibaanada golaha deegaanka. Xildhibaanadu “si taban ayay u arkayeen, halka hoggaamiyeyaasha bulshada, ganacsatada, iyo ururada bulshadu ay isku raaceen in hab-maamuleedka maayarnimadu uu dantii Bristol si fiican uga shaqeeyay.”

Si kastaba ha ahaatee, habka maayarnimadu danta bulshooyinka magaalada degan si siman oo isku mid ah ugumuu shaqayn.  (more…)

The only time I feel included is during the election campaign, says Somali voter – Bristol mayoral election 2016

Abdi Mohamed – Bristol is going to the polls on 5th May to elect its second mayor in less than four years – and 70 councillors at once for the first time. But in community circles, voters have been trying to understand how far has the city travelled with the mayoral system and what kind of mayor do they want to elect.

The mayoral system has, of course, brought both opportunities and challenges to the city. In addition to creating a platform that is not attached to party politics, it has enabled local residents recognise the leadership of the city. A 2015 study report by Bristol University found, “a directly elected mayor in Bristol has led to a dramatic increase in the visibility of leadership in the city.” On the other hand, having a directly elected mayor has reduced the power of the councillors. They were “less positive than from public managers and leaders from business, community and voluntary sector who agreed that the introduction of the mayoral system had ensured the interests of Bristol are better represented,” the study notes.

However, the mayoral system has not served the interests of all communities in equal terms.


Bristol Mayor: Quick way to address the lack of BME workforce representation is to “kill an awful lot of white men”

In response to a question from Cllr Afzal Shah, Labour, Easton Ward, about the imbalance of BME workforce representation at the council, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson said that a quick quick way is to “kill an awful lot of white men – but that isn’t a very practical solution”.


Read below to understand the councillor’s main question:

Cllr Afzal Shah: BME Make-up of Bristol City Council

According to Bristol City Council’s own figures, the make-up of the existing workforce demonstrates a comparative lack of diversity.

BME managers by directorate as at March 2015:

  • Business Change and City Director – 6.41%
  • Neighbourhoods – 4.86%
  • People – 6.33%
  • Place – 5.33%

What action is the council taking to rectify the imbalance of BME representation of senior officers in post at Bristol City Council to fully reflect the diversity of the city of Bristol and support the Council’s claim of being an equal opportunity employer and can I also ask for the City Director to take action in this regard?

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson:

  • I am supporting the Race Equality Manifesto for the City with whom I have been working closely.
  • The Council is currently establishing a Corporate Equalities Group, which will take the lead in ensuring that our workforce at all levels reflects Bristol’s diversity. This new group will be chaired by a Strategic Director, and will be made up of representatives from across the Council, including from the new Staff-Led Groups for BME, Disabled, LGBT and Young employees. The first meeting of the new group is being arranging for the autumn.
  • We are also promoting staff led groups for all of the equalities protected characteristic groups including BME employees.
  • The quick quick way is to kill an awful lot of white men, but that isn’t a very practical solution.

Cllr Afzal Shah: As an equal opportunities employer, how do these figures stack-up with other Core Cities?

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson:

  • It is a comparison we should make and I will look into that comparison as part of this process.
  • I don’t think it is a matter of whether we are better or worse than other Core Cities. I think the more the Council’s staff and elected members reflect the nature of our population the better we serve that population.


Struggle – new Somali play in English comes to Bristol

Suuban makes a YouTube video explaining how she is doubly discriminated against: she is black and she is Muslim. When the video goes viral she becomes the voice of her community but her new found fame has unwelcome consequences. MI5 pressure her relentlessly for help in preventing teenage girls from joining ISIS. And some of her community turn against her, digging up secrets from her family’s past in Somalia.

Struggle is part of this year’s Somali Festival Bristol which aims to celebrate both the cultural heritage of the SomalisStruggle and the community’s presence in the city. The festival – presented by Black South West Network and the Somali Media Group – is a sister to the week-long Somali Festival in London that is curated by Kayd Somali Arts and Culture and will similarly focus on the concept of ‘spaces’, what they mean, and how they are used, for ‘Aqoon la’aani waa iftiin la’aan – The absence of knowledge is the absence of light’ and we wish to fill these spaces with light.

Omar DhaqanThe festival presents Somali artists and academics, including Anab Guled, AbdiRahman Barwaaqo, Professor Cawo Abdi, Ibrahim Hersi Hurre and Firdos Ali’s Somali play ‘Struggle’ – as well as the Bristol-based author and Somali playwright Abdillahi Mohabe. Further, there will also be an opportunity to see a small cultural exhibition.

Event Details

Date: Friday, 30 October 2015

Time: 12:00 – 21:00

Venue: City Academy Bristol, Russell Town Avenue, Redfield, Bristol BS5 9JH

You can book your place now – just visit Somali Festival Bristol

Please see the attached documents for:

Programme details: Somali Festival Programme
Project background and information for the media: Press Release

Somali Festival Bristol

Celebrating Somali Cultural Heritage

‘Nin aan dhul marini dhaayo maleh – He who has not travelled has no understanding.’

The Somali community has travelled to Bristol, and has come with a deep understanding of who they are and where they are from. Now, to celebrate the Somali community’s presence in Bristol, and to wrap their arms around Bristolians who do not know of them, Black South West Network and the Somali Media Group, in conjunction with Kayd Somali Arts and Culture are holding a Somali Festival here on the Friday 30th of October.

The Bristol Somali Festival is a sister to the week-long Somali Festival in London that is curated by Kayd and will similarly focus on the concept of ‘spaces’, what they mean, and how they are used, for ‘Aqoon la’aani waa iftiin la’aan – The absence of knowledge is the absence of light’ and we wish to fill these spaces with light.

The Festival is part of a wider Black South West Network project that will be exploring Somali Diaspora Identity in Bristol over the last 25 years. The project will be exploring Somali heritage and identity in the UK from 1991 to the present day. It aims to draw out how heritage and identity have changed as a result of living in the UK, and to develop a body of work that all people can relate to, which will engender a sense of understanding across communities.

The project will examine key themes of Somali heritage and cultural identity to understand what it means to be a Somali and Bristolian/British. This project will honour the Somali oral tradition by recording interviews with members of all age groups in our community to capture the memories, thoughts and views of the Somali community in Bristol.

These interviews will be conducted by trained members of the Somali community. Interviewees will cover both genders and an age range that will provide rich data from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Somalis in Bristol.

The project will be launched at the 2015 Somali Festival in Bristol, an off-shoot of the annual Somali Festival in London. Over the following year, 48 interviews will be collected. The interviews will be edited and used as features in monthly radio programmes on BCfm community radio; they will be utilized, alongside personal artefacts, video footage, and interactive heritage exhibits, as key elements of a year long exhibition on the Somali community in Bristol at the MShed, which will be launched at the 2016 Somali Festival.

As a result of this project, the whole of Bristol can learn of Somali culture through their own words.

‘Af jooga looma adeego – Do not serve for a mouth that is present (i.e. one should not speak on behalf of a person who is present).’


Date: Friday, 30th of October 2015

Time: 12:00 – 21:00

Venue: City Academy Bristol, Russell Town Avenue, Bristol BS5 9JH

Bookings: you could book a place through Eventbrite where Early Bird reservation system is in place – please visit Somali Festival Bristol 


Details of the festival programme, please see the following documents:

PDF: Somali Festival Bristol 2015 – Press Release


For additional information, please contact:

Sado Jirde, Project Manager, BSWN,

Email:   or  Telephone: 0117 939 6648­­