Helen Kennedy: Recreation Coordinator, Activist, Social Justice Advocate 23
Jessie Zorzella: Growing Up in Lawrence Heights 30
Lucille Hunte: Proud Mother, Tenant Activist, “Grandma”, Keeper of the Community 36
Shukri Dualeh: “Shukri Unravelled”, Community Worker, Sister, Feminist, Spoken Word Artist, Book Lover 41
Trevaun Douglas:”Trey LaSole” 48
Trudy Ann Powell: “My life is a continuous journey….” 54
Wares Fazelyar: Elder Brother, Scholar, Political Scientist, Citizen of Canuckistan, Aspiring Rubab Player 59
Wayne Duhaney: Harm Reduction Worker, Youth Mentor, Community Leader, Historian 66
Winston Ricketts: Writer, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Pacifist, Tall Man 72
Abdi Mohammed Mohamoud: Father, Basketball Coach, Mentor, Activist & Community Leader
What is the name you were born with?
The name I was born with is Abdi Mohammed Mohamoud.
Do you have any nicknames?
Somali people are given nicknames by their family according to who they are. Mine is Abdi Dheere. Dheere means “tall” (laughs)
Are there any stories about your family name or your name? Were you named after anyone?
Abdi and friends in Somalia
My name is a common name that my parents gave to me. It’s not really attached to anyone or anything. When you look at for example my fourth and fifth names, they are really attached to my family name. Some names are attached to different places. When people hear a certain name, they will realize that those names came from a specific town or Provines. Local people gave certain names to people. Some names go back to the local tribes. The last three names I have are Hussein Issa Samater and these three names go back to my clan.
Where and when were you born?
Well, I was born in Somalia, in the southern part of the country. It’s called Lower Jubba and that’s the Province of Lower Jubba and now they call it Jubba Land. The capital city of Jubba is called Kismayo and I was born in a small town called Jammama, that’s my town.
Who were your parents?
My parents were farmers. We moved to Jubba from another province called Nugal, which is in the northeastern part of the country. In those days there was the civil war and how things were going on in those days, my family moved to the south of the country. My mother’s name is Faduma and my father’s name Mohamud, and his nickname was Eeya, and he was given this nickname because from the time he was born, he always cried a lot. Eeya means ‘he cries a lot’.
Do you have siblings?
Yes, I have brothers and sisters. One of my brothers died, his name was Mohamoud. I have another one, his name is Sheikh Mohamoud. He was from another mother- my father had two wives. You can have two wives in our country, if you can afford it (laughs).
My father’s first wife was called Asha Issa. She gave birth to a daughter, her name is Ugasso, and she still lives in Kisamayo. And her mom died after the birth. Asha Issa had a sister- Hawa Issa and Hawa took the child with her to raise her. And then my father came from Kismayo to Jummama and he met and married my mother Faduma and she had five children- two sons and three daughters. I‘m the second oldest. The oldest was Hareedo, and then me, and then Hawa, then Arliyo, then Mohamoud (he died). Two boys and three girls.
Describe the place you grew up in.
Jummama is a small town in the southern part of the country. I grew up on a farm. My father had a farm, and a herd of goats and cattle. He was a farmer but also worked in the Mennonite Mission headquarters as one of the coordinators. He was a general foreman and had five people working under him. He was a mechanic and night watchman and supervisor of the whole compound. He was also a community leader.
What was school like for you?
I went to public school from grade one to grade two and then I went to the Mennonite Mission school from grade 2 to grade 8. The Mennonite Mission school was so great, but you had to work very hard. We never had enough resources- the library was very small, few books, but they maintained everything so well. We had nurses, doctors and teachers. That’s where I started playing basketball.
My teacher and coach was Chester Kurtis- he died about three years ago. I think he was German and he was a Mennonite. He was the basketball coach. He had a team of students. Chester was our carpentry teacher and he also taught us music and sports. He had a very positive influence on me. That’s where I first started playing basketball, under Chester Kurtis. And we also had Mr. Goodman, I think he lives in Pennsylvania now, he was also a good basketball coach in Jummama.
Abdi’s basketball team
During school, I started playing basketball for the town, and after that for the province and then I played for Mogadishu, the capital City of Somalia. I was playing in the A Division level. I was a professional player. There were about 11 teams of men and 10 teams of women. The teams represented the different ministries of the government. My team was LLPP- Public Works and Housing and my position was a post centre and big forward. We won about five championships and two of the cups - one was named after General Daud- one of the Somali generals in my country. Sports was my vehicle, so to speak. In 1972 I started playing for the national team of my country. I was a very young guy, about 17 or 18. I was a star, and very well known in my country. People knew Abdi Dheere as a basketball player because of basketball.
When I finished high school I went to the faculty of education for teacher training. I went to school for 4 years. In 1980 I started coaching basketball. In the morning I was at school and in the evening I was coaching. I took biochemistry and I was teaching in a high school.
In 1980 I started coaching basketball, and I started doing this full time as a professional.