“My name is Fatma Ahmed, I was born in Burao, north of Somalia and later migrated to Sweden with my family. I was raised in Gothenburg, Sweden until the age of 10 after which we migrated to the UK.
Fascinated by forensic psychology and what factors enable delinquency and crime prevail I went on to study Criminology and Security Studies. Upon completion, I went to Tanzania on a sabbatical where I participated in various community-oriented projects – economic empowerment programs for women and education programs for children in rural areas.
With a newly developed passion for International Relations and Development, I went on to do a Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation, a European programme studying in a charming monastery in Venice. I spent some time at the Institute of Peace Research and Security Policy in Hamburg working on my thesis. My major interests then were criminality and the privatization of prisons, but I was also keen on issues affecting Africa.
Roused by the piracy pandemic off the Somali coast I decide to write my thesis – Unravelling The Puzzle of Piracy From The Somali Perspective
At the time there was a lot of information on the economic, security impact of piracy, but there was nothing on the domestic impact – how piracy impacts Somalis in Somalia, how piracy affects Somalis in terms of governance, factors that enabled piracy to flourish.
Following my completion of the Master’s, I was awarded a competitive fellowship to The European Union Mission to the United Nation in New York. My tenure at The UN allowed me to have an understanding of how The EU Mission functions at the UN, the decision-making processes. I was heavily involved in the Commission on The Status of Women, a cause I am very passionate about in advancing the rights of women. Although my time at the UN was enriching my real interest was to work at the local level and delivering programs on the ground. Even though I lived in the diaspora, I always wanted to contribute to the growth of Africa; and I knew I’d come back; the question was more of “how”!
After my Fellowship to The EU Mission to the UN, I landed at a consultancy firm with a predominant focus on Africa; focused on civil society and community engagement, institution building and security issues. To get a better grasp on the local issues the East Africa region faces, I moved to the region to lead and deliver on programmes.
My advice for those interested in returning to the continent would be that as well intended as you may be to delivering change you should be sensitive to the existing dynamics and be well informed. There are enormous strides made in the technology, social, economic and governance sectors, so identify what complementary skills you could bring and avoid reinforcing existing negative stereotypes.
I love living in Africa, I feel that it’s home. All in all, I’d definitely encourage Africans in the diaspora to consider the opportunities that exist and play their part in the growth and positive change of our home.”