October is UK’s Black History Month. Marking this occasion, OnIslam is shedding light on 3 black Muslim figures making difference in the UK’s contemporary history.
1- Mo Farah, Distance Runner
Born in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in1983, Mohamed Mukhtar Jama Farah, known as Mo Farah, is UK’s greatest distance runner.
He earned the gold medals in the 5000 m and 10,000 m at the 2012 Olympic game as well as the 2015 World Championships in Athletics.
He also completed that double at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics and the European Athletics Championships in 2010 and 2014. This makes him the second man in history to win long-distance doubles at successive Olympics and World Championships. He is the most decorated athlete ever in the UK, with seven global titles. Besides, he was the first British athlete to win two gold medals at the same world championships.
Farah won five gold medals at the European Athletics Championships, this makes him the most successful individual athlete in championships’ history.
He was European Athlete of the Year in both 2011 and 2012, and has been named British Athlete of the Year by the British Athletics Writers Association five times (more than any other). Farah was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2013.
Moreover, the black Muslim man is the European record holder for the 1500 m, 10,000 m, half marathon and two miles, the British record holder for the 5000 m, the European indoor record holder for 5000 m, as well as the British indoor record in the 3000 m.
2- Nadifa Mohamed, Novelist
Nadifa is a Somali-British award-winning novelist. Her debut novel, “Black Mamba Boy” was published in 2009. It’s a semi-biographical account of her father’s life in Yemen in the 1930s and ’40s, during the colonial period.
She has said that “the novel grew out of a desire to learn more about my roots, to elucidate Somali history for a wider audience and to tell a story that I found fascinating.”A “fictionalized biography”, it won an international critical and popular acclaim. The book won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award, the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize, and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.
In 2013, Mohamed released her second novel, “The Orchard of Lost Souls” which is set in Somalia on the eve of the civil war. This novel has recently won the Somerset Maugham prize and has been long-listed for the Dylan Thomas prize
3- Rageh Omaar, Journalist
Omaar is a Somali-born British journalist and writer. His latest book “Only Half of Me” deals with the tensions between these two sides of his identity.
He started his career in journalism as a stringer for the BBC in Ethopia and then a BBC world affairs correspondent reporting from Iraq.
In September 2006, Rageh moved to a new post at Al Jazeera English, where he presented the nightly weekday documentary series “Witness” till January 2010.
The Rageh Omaar Report, first aired February 2010, is a one-hour, monthly investigative documentary in which he reports on important international current affairs stories.
From January 2013, he became a special correspondent and presenter for ITV News, reporting on a broad range of news stories, as well as producing special in-depth reports from all around the UK and further afield. A year after his appointment, Omaar was promoted to International Affairs Editor for ITV News.