The story of Hussein Abdi Kahin
When only four years old, Hussein Abdi Kahin’s father, Abdi, was killed by stray gunfire during civil violence in Somaliland. After this, his family was torn apart, and when he was eight or nine years old, he was taken from Somaliland to neighbouring Djibouti to stay with family. He didn’t stay in Djibouti for long and was flown to the UK by a woman he didn’t know, who claimed she’d be taking him to Europe to live with his relatives there. He was, as most children growing up in a war-torn country would have been, excited at the chance of a fresh start.
However, that excitement was quickly diminished after landing in the UK. The woman told him to tell people his name was Mohamed, giving him fake travel documents with his photograph next to another child’s name. When in the flat in Hounslow that Hussein would spend the next years of his life in, the woman took the piece of paper he had with his relatives’ contact details on and tore it apart, throwing it away, it’s at this moment he revealed he knew he was in trouble.
This woman then forced Hussein to work as a domestic servant, telling him he would do as he was told if he ever wanted to see his family again. For the first few years of his life in the UK, this was all Hussein knew, but when he turned 12, he enrolled in the local Community College, a turning point in his life.
Teachers here could see that something was wrong, but in PE class Hussein thrived, gaining enough confidence to open up to his PE teacher Mr Watkinson about his true past and identity, and the horrible situation he found himself in. Because of this confession, social services managed to intervene, and Hussein was fostered by the mother of one of his friends, another Somali family.
His love for sport continued and his running prowess soon shone. So that he was able to compete in competitions outside of the UK, Mr Watkinson helped him apply for British citizenship under the name ‘Mohamed Farah’, which was granted in July 2000.
He then went on to become the champion runner we know him as, with the country shouting a name that he wasn’t born with whenever he raced. In fact, he was so affected by his past that it took him years to reveal to his wife, Tania Farah, the truth of his childhood.
His upcoming documentary allows Hussein to share the truth of his story, and he hopes it’ll reframe public perspective on trafficking and slavery. In the documentary, we see him connect with his family, talk about his experience and even meet with the real Mohamed Farah whose identity he was given when he came to the UK.