Somali’s from around the world descended on Church House Conference Centre in London on Wednesday to honour achievements in sport, business, education, innovation, and entertainment within the Somali community. Organizers pledged 100% of the proceeds from the black tie event be donated to assist in relief efforts for the ongoing drought in Somalia.
Farah Gabdon began the award ceremony with a touching poem about what it means to be Somali
“We have been largely defined by others, in language that isn’t ours: Squeezed into jagged words like Refugee, pirate, homeless.”
Hodan Hussein, one of the organizers of the event read out a congratulatory message on behalf of British Prime Minister Theresa May before the event began.
Professional footballer Mukhtar Ali won the Sportsperson of the year award. The midfielder currently plays for the Dutch football club Vitesse on loan from Chelsea. Although Mukhtar is only 19 years old, he’s already being heralded as one of the best Somali footballers of all time. His brother accepted the award on his behalf.
Dr. Amina Mogeh, a successful entrepreneur based in Uganda presented the Business of the Year award to Hass Petroleum. The group received the award just hours after announcing that they would be building Africa’s tallest building in Nairobi, standing at over 300 meters tall.
He said that Haas took its lead from watching multinational organizations do business in Somalia before the collapse of the central government. Today, Haas is active in 14 countries in East and Central Africa.
Ahmed Adam Roble, a standout pupil who is one of 9 – and the only student from London – to win a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Eton college for the sixth form. The well spoken 16 year old dedicated his win to all Somali’s who are achievers.
Legendary Somali singer Ahmed Naaji Sacad won the award for Best Entertainer. Also nominated for the award was Somali-Canadian singer Amaal Nuux, whose 2012 hit ‘Mufasa’ won her fans the world over. Ahmed Naaji’s two children accepted the award on behalf of their father who is currently in Nairobi recording a new song to raise awareness for the ongoing drought.
The Somali Museum of Minnesota won the 2017 award for Innovation. The museum is home to hundreds of artifacts collected by the curator on annual trips to Somalia. The Museum’s aim is to re-educate Somali youth who are born and raised in Minnesota to explore their culture and heritage.
Abdimalik Muse Coldoon was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Community award for his work in journalism. Abdimalik is currently incarcerated in Hargeisa after returning home from covering the elections in Mogadishu. The crowd honoured him with a roaring applause and standing ovation.
Attendee’s of the award show were entertained by Dur Dur Band. Their unique mix of funk and disco with traditional elements of Somali music made them extremely popular in the Mogadishu music scene. They were joined onstage by one of the most admired singers today, Farhiya Fiska.
The last award of the evening was given to Physician and human rights activist Dr. Hawa Abdi for the incredible work she’s done for the past two decades with the Dr. Hawa Abdi foundation. Her daughter Dr. Deqo Mohamed accepted the award on her behalf. She reminded the audience that although tonight was a night for celebrating Somali achievements, famine looms in Somalia for the third time in 25 years. She appealed to the audience, not for money, but for change and said she hopes that she never has to see Somali faces on TV begging for food and assistance.
Adam Matan, Managing Director at the Anti-Tribalism Movement and founder of the International Somali Awards, said that the event is about recognizing Somali achievement while still recognizing that there is still work to be done.
“Last night’s event was about recognising the outstanding contributions of the Somali community while acknowledging the difficult days ahead. Unfortunately, this is a crucial time for Somalia and so to help our brothers and sister’s back home so all ticket sales have been donated towards tackling the growing humanitarian crisis.
Mated added that “Somali people are vibrant, creative and proud of our country. To realise our potential we need to celebrate the fantastic achievements and hard work of today’s role models. We encourage the next generation to join us in taking inspiration from these role models and contribute to building a stronger Somalia.”
Halima Aden, the Hijab wearing Somali model who first made headlines last year when she ran for Miss Minnesota while wearing her scarf offered closing remarks at the award show.