Fahima Omer speaks English, Welsh and Somali. She wears a hijab and black Converse trainers. She’s 21 and from Grangetown in Cardiff and kind of from Hargeisa in Somaliland as well, even though they shout at her in English when she goes there because somehow they instinctively know.
Her mum and dad and sister fled the civil war in their homeland in the 1980s but she was born and bred in the Welsh capital. And yet there’s no contradiction or conflict in any of her complex, continent-and-culture-spanning identity and family. She’s 100% Welsh Somali.
She’s the inheritor of a thriving tradition that has been evolving and developing ever since the first Somali seaman landed in Wales when Queen Victoria was on the throne, life expectancy was only 45 years, and Cardiff wasn’t even a city – never mind a capital.
“It’s a blessing to have two countries,” said the former Willows High and St David’s College student.
“I can say I have Wales and all its traditions and culture but I have that as a Somali as well.
In a way there are similarities between the countries. “People say ‘Where are you from?’ and I always give two countries. Home is Cardiff, Wales, but also Hargeisa in Somaliland. But I feel more at home here because I have been here my whole life.”
More than a century after the first of her family’s countrymen and women first arrived in the docks of Wales’ capital in the 1880s the Somali community in Cardiff has grown to number in the thousands and become part of the city’s own identity.
Around 10,000 Somalis currently live in Cardiff, according to latest figures from the International Organisation for Migration, making it one of the largest populations in the UK.