Kayd Director, Ayan Mahamoud, awarded MBE :We are delighted to announce that Ayan Mahamoud, founder and director of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture Ltd was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) “For services to promoting friendship and cultural understanding between the UK and Somali Region” on the 25th October at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London.
Mahamoud is the organiser of the annual Somali Week Festival (SWF) that has been running in London since 2007, and which draws some of the most prominent Somali artists from across the Somali regions and the diaspora. She is also co-organiser of the Hargeysa International Book Festival (HIBF), currently the biggest arts festival in East Africa, and co-founder of the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, one of the first cultural institutions to emerge in the region after the civil war. Over the years the Book Fair has attracted a host of UK-based artists, writers, and journalists, including Nadifa Mohamed, Michela Wrong, Mary Harper, Hudaydi, Said Jama, and many more. Under Mahamoud’s stewardship, some of the most influential poems in the Somali language have been translated and published in English, and classics in English have been translated for a Somali audience. These and many other initiatives have made Mahamoud a leading figure in the promotion of cultural and artistic exchange between the UK and the Somali speaking regions.
Mahamoud has dedicated herself to the championing, preservation, and development of Somali arts and culture since the end of war, which left the region with a crumbling infrastructure for the arts, and dwindling resources for artists. Kayd recognises that arts and culture are crucial to the flourishing of society, and a vital means for encouraging dialogue and peaceful coexistence among Somalis and others. Thanks to Mahamoud’s passion for the arts, and her talent as a curator, both SWF and HIBF enjoy recognition as festivals which bring together a diverse group of individuals in the spirit of creativity, and celebration of culture.
Through her work Mahmoud is conscious of providing a space to those underrepresented in the arts, particularly women and young people. Over the years she has actively promoted artists and art forms that have been marginalised in Somali society; mostly recently, for example, she has dedicated herself to the showcasing of Somali musicians who have few opportunities to perform in the region. With a background in social work and women’s rights campaigning, Mahamoud—who also leads on a community project aimed at tackling female genital mutilation—has effectively merged her concern with social equality with her passion for the arts, becoming a key figure not only among Somalis, but also within the UK arts, culture and political activism scene.
Mahmoud’s work is a testament to the universality of art as a human value and will continue to inspire diverse audiences, forge cultural partnerships, and create common platforms for leading Somali, UK and international artists.