The Olympic great, Mo Farah, whose real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin, has spoken on how he was illegally trafficked to the United Kingdom (UK) from Djibouti as a child and was forced to work as a servant.
Farah, who spoke on a BBC TV documentary, “The Real Mo Farah” which will be aired Wednesday, said he was flown to the UK at about the age of eight or nine by a woman he had never met, who then named him Mohammed Farah.
The woman made him look after another family’s children.
Farah, who completed the 5,000m-10,000m double at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, has previously said he came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia with his parents.
However, the 39-year-old Olympic great now revealed that his parents have never been to the UK, adding that his father was killed in civil unrest in Somalia when he was four years old, while his mother, Aisha, and two brothers live in the breakaway state of Somaliland.
“The truth is I’m not who you think I am. Most people know me as Mo Farah, but it’s not my name or it’s not the reality,” Farah said.
According to him, the woman who flew with him to the UK told him he was being taken to live with relatives and to say his name was Mohamed as she had fake travel documents that showed his photo next to the name “Mohamed Farah.”
The Olympic great said his children motivated him to tell the truth about his past.
“That’s the main reason in telling my story because I want to feel normal and don’t feel like you’re holding on to something.”
Farah’s wife, Tania, said that in the year leading to their wedding in 2010, she realised that “there were lots of missing pieces to his story” but she eventually “wore him down with the questioning” and he told her the truth.
Farah said that when he arrived in the UK, the woman who trafficked him took a piece of paper from him that had his relatives’ contact details and “ripped it up and put it in the bin. At that moment, I knew I was in trouble.”
He added that he was forced to do housework and childcare “if I wanted food in my mouth,” and was told that “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything. Often, I would just lock myself in the bathroom and cry.”
He said that his life was transformed for the better once he went to live with Kinsi Farah, the sister of the man who is alleged to have aided in his journey to the UK.
Kinsi in the documentary quoted by The Punch said that she wanted to protect Farah, adding that she does not know why her sister-in-law brought him to the UK.
She said, “Do you think that was her reason when she brought me to the UK, in helping her with cooking, cleaning?” asks Farah in a video call. I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, the documentary showed that Farah was later reunited with his mother in Somaliland.
His mother told him that “I sent you away because of the war. You were given a name that was not yours, sent away to England, a country you knew nothing about.
“It’s important that you tell your story. Lying is a sin.”
Farah’s physical education teacher, Alan Watkinson, noticed how the youngster’s mood changed when he was on the running track.
“The only language he seemed to understand was the language of PE and sport,” says Watkinson.
Farah says it was athletics that enabled him to escape.
“The only thing I could do to get away from this (situation) was to get out and run,” he says.
Farah eventually told Watkinson the truth and he informed local authorities.
It was Watkinson who applied for Farah’s British citizenship which he described as a “long process” and on July 25, 2000 Farah was recognised as a British citizen.
“I often think about the other Mohamed Farah, the boy whose place I took on that plane and I really hope he’s OK,” said Farah.
Farah was told by lawyers during the making of the documentary that due to “false representations” he risked being stripped of his British citizenship.
However, a Home Office spokesman told The Times “No action whatsoever will be taken” against Farah — often called ‘Sir Mo’ after he was ennobled by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.
Saharareporters, New York