On November 30, 2016 we lost a brother, an educator and a social justice warrior Omar Abdulkadir Enow. I met Prof. Enow for the first time in the early 1990s at an event organized by Ergo group – one of the earliest peace initiatives after the collapse of the Somali State. He was a man on a mission, a mission that would have a positive impact on thousands of families and a mission that makes him one of the most influential people in Somalia. He was a caring person with big heart and spared no energy to fight for the rights and dignity of a fellow human being. He believed education was the way to end injustice and inequality.
The Enow family are well known in Mogadishu as intellectuals and educators. They owned and ran the famous Enow language schools. It was in the family’s history to use education as a vehicle to help others and create change and that is what prof. Omar did throughout his life.
Omar Enow worked as a board member at Midaynta, a Somali-Canadian organization that helped new immigrants settle and reunify with their family members where I had the privilege of working with him as a fellow board member. His enormous contributions and sacrifice at Midaynta made it possible to resettle thousands of Somali immigrants in this country (Canada). In the harshest Canadian winters you would see Omar with his young daughters going from one community meeting to another to help people. That was the type of person he was.
While he was perusing his postgraduate education at York University, Omar helped many undocumented Somali refugees gain status in Canada. He was one of the most respected expert witnesses for the cases of Digil and Mirifle and Bantu communities. I remember one particular instance where he testified at an appeal case where a fellow Somali from Gosha region was denied refugee status because of miscommunication between him and the interpreter. Omar went to testify on behalf of that fellow and his testimony brought tears to the presiding member’s eyes. Not only did she grant refugee status to that person but she also gave an apology to the claimant for the injustices.
Omar was always fighting for the rights of refugees and educating the public about the discrimination and marginalization of his community. His goal was to help as many families as possible come to Canada or the US and get an opportunity for themselves and their children to receive an education. One that they were not able to get in their homeland because of discrimination and marginalization.
After helping thousands settle in North America after they escaped the disasters of civil war and unending discrimination, he did not feel his mission was over. He went back to Somalia leaving his comfortable job as a university professor in the United States and started to establish a university that provided free education to minorities and poor students.
No one I know, that is currently living or passed, did what brother Omar did for so many Somalis. He courageously advocated for the human rights of marginalised communities, educated thousands to make them understand the injustices going on in Somalia and confronted those with power and guns with truth and knowledge. He will be missed by hundreds of thousands but as the ayah goes “We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”. However, his legacy will be remembered by millions of future generations. He was my hero! Brother Omar Abdulkadir Enow may Allah grant him Janatul Fardowsa. Amin!
My most sincere condolences goes to Reer Enow wherever they are.
By: Abdulkadir Mohamed Abow