Somaliland: The Somali East End – Don’t Just Live, Live To Be Remembered


Somalilandsun – British Somalis from East London hold multifaceted events that include exhibitions, panel discussions, presentations, films and most interesting is a program to enlighten on how to Trace your Somali Family History. These events are programmed to run at various venues from 8th -28th March 2013-Editor


The Somali East End: Exhibition Launch Reception

Exhibition launch reception and “How did we get here?” panel discussion with community leaders

( Idea Store )

Friday 8 March 6-9pm

Oxford HouseDerbyshire Street,

Bethnal Green, E2 6HG

Exhibition: The Somali East End – Don’t just live, live to be remembered

The first ever exhibition examining the history of Somali migration to Tower Hamlets will be hosted in March 2013. Produced by Idea Store in partnership with KAYD Somali Arts & Culture, the exhibition draws on oral histories of influential and inspirational residents as well as the collections of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives to tell the story of the borough’s Somali history. These oral histories and new archives have been gathered for the archives during 2012-13 by Simeera Hassan as part of her heritage skills traineeship supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The National Archives. The exhibition also features a striking set of portraits of Somali seamen and community leaders taken by local photographer Sarah Ainslie.

On launch night, Friday 8 March, a panel will discuss “How did we get here and what have we been though since the first days of the seamen?”, highlighting the work of local community leaders who will reflect on their organisation’s place in the history of Somali Tower Hamlets, with a particular focus on women in recognition of International Women’s Day. There will be contributions from Khadra Sarmaan, Women’s Development Officer at Ocean Somali Community Association; Joycelyn Hayford, Director of Black Women’s Health and Family Support; Shamsa Hersi, Mayfield House Somali Day Centre and Cliff Pereira, geographical historian. The event will be chaired by Mahamed Mahamud.

The exhibition runs at Oxford House from 8-31 March 2013 and will subsequently tour to other venues in Tower Hamlets.

Free Events

A programme of free public events throughout March is being held to tie in with this ground-breaking exhibition.

Getting Somalia Wrong: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State

Talk by Mary Harper on her recent book.

Saturday 9 March, 1 – 2.30pm

Idea Store Whitechapel

Tracing your Somali Family History

Learn how to use online genealogy databases, available free of charge at Idea Stores, to trace your Somali ancestors. This IT workshop is led by historian Cliff Pereira and staff from Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives.

Saturday 16 March, 1 – 4pm

Idea Store Whitechapel

Reminiscence Session with Somali Seamen

A rare opportunity to hear the memories of these pioneers first-hand. Led by Kinsi at Numbi Arts in partnership with Mayfield House and Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives.

Wednesday 20 March, 2 – 4pm

Mayfield House Day Centre

Film Night

KAYD Somali Arts & Culture and Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives invite you to Somali Film Night at Idea Store Chrisp Street. The two films ‘Janaale’ and ‘Muted Cry’ illustrate two very different aspects of Somali Tower Hamlets.

‘Janaale’ (The Fortune Men) is a short documentary produced by Sahan Centre which aims to explore the history trail of the Somali diaspora in the latter part of the nineteenth century, with a particular focus on those who worked as seafarers. These men took part in the First, Second and Falklands Wars and made outstanding contributions to Britain as veterans of the Royal Navy. Many of these men had travelled to Britain in search of work and subsequently settled in their respective communities. Despite many hardships and challenges encountered, their resilience embodied the spirit of hard work and made a positive contribution to their communities. This is an inspiring story that will resonate in the minds of the young and old of our current generation of Somali settlers and hopes to change attitudes through learning from the seafarers’ experiences.

‘Muted Cry’, a short film produced by Ocean Somali Community Association is an entertaining and emotive play that seeks to underline the devastating effect of FGM. It is realistic portrayal of family dynamics, gender relations and generational differences. Muted Cry is based on information and testimonies gathered from women participating in the OSCA project ‘Community against FGM’.

After the two films KAYD will lead a discussion about the films and their relation to the Somali community in Tower Hamlets.

Thursday 28 March, 6.30 – 8.30pm

Idea Store Chrisp Street