Ibrahim’s Review of 2017

Annual review number nine! Can’t say I’m a novice at this anymore. I can already imagine next year’s review. We’ll be throwing a party. Cakes and balloons. Lots and lots of balloons. And cakes. I like cakes. Especially fresh cream. With a jam filling…

But then the balloons burst, and I wake up. The calendar still shows it’s 2017. It’s not quite over yet, but it’s time to look back on some of my personal highlights of the year.

In January, I was at the British Muslim Awards 2017, shortlisted as a finalist under the Services to Creativity and Technology category. The awards ceremony was at the Athena in Leicester. The winner was tech reviewer Safwan Ahmedmia, widely known as SuperSaf. Congratulations to you Safwan! I am also pleased to announce that I have been nominated as one of the finalists in the “One To Watch” category for the British Muslim Awards 2018, which will take place in Bradford. I am humbled to have been shortlisted again and wish all nominees the best of luck.

Ibrahim was a finalist in the Services to Creativity and Technology category at the British Muslim Awards 2017

Between February and April, I was one of the presenters of “@7”, a topical magazine show on Cambridge TV. It was really fun presenting alongside co-hosts Billy Pointon, Victoria Innes and Bridget Bradshaw, as we looked at all kinds of local stories to do with arts and culture, entertainment, current affairs, and much more. It was also a pleasure to collaborate with Rick Pinder, the producer and director of the series. Many thanks to the Cambridge TV School for the opportunity and also to Billy, Victoria, Bridget and Rick for being so awesome to work with!

The “@7” gang: Ibrahim with co-hosts Billy Pointon (top-left), Victoria Innes (top-right) and Bridget Bradshaw (bottom-left), and series producer/director Rick Pinder (bottom-right)

Along came May when I appeared on “Unsung Hero”, a talk show on IQRA Bangla (Sky 825) presented by Ishaque Uddin. I talked about my work as a blogger and presenter, as well as discussing various issues affecting the youth and the British Bangladeshi community. You can watch the full interview right here:

Between May and June, it was certainly a very exciting period for British politics. We had a snap general election that coincided with the month of Ramadan. I invited each parliamentary candidate, standing to be MP for Cambridge, to my home for a live interview/chat on Facebook. I really enjoyed the experience of interviewing the candidates, listening to them all discuss various key issues in the run-up to Election Day. It was a Labour hold for Cambridge, winning with more than 12,000 votes. Many thanks to Daniel Zeichner, Julian Huppert, Stuart Tuckwood and John Hayward for joining me on Facebook Live during the election period.

Ibrahim interviews the 2017 parliamentary candidates for Cambridge on Facebook Live: Stuart Tuckwood (top-left, Green), Dr John Hayward (top-right, Conservatives), Dr Julian Huppert (bottom-left, Liberal Democrat), Daniel Zeichner (bottom-right, Labour)

My biggest highlight of the year was in July when a childhood dream of mine became a reality. I was offered a work experience placement with ITV News to assist the newsteam with their coverage of the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. The two weeks I spent at SW19 were amazing, and I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to be part of one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Huge thanks to the ITV News team for everything, it really was an incredible experience.

Ibrahim at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships

Fast-forward to October. My mother and I co-launched Cambridge Rise, a digital media network providing positive news coverage online for the Cambridge community and beyond through multiple social media platforms. Since the launch, we have produced video reports on the completion of a community mural and the Cambridge Mosque Open Day. There’s still more to come as we keep on producing news reports as well as making mini-documentaries, sharing untold stories from the city’s wider communities. The website currently features various articles and blogs, and we’re hoping to publish more content in 2018 from new contributors. Exciting times ahead!

2016 was a tough year for me, but there have definitely been some great moments this time round. The hard work always continues of course. Business as usual. How many times in our lives have we thought about doing things but felt we could never pull it off? Of course, it’s important to be realistic and not set ourselves a target that is unattainable. Why not break it down? Make it easy. There is another way. Even when you’re faced with restrictions and limits, you can still do it.

I recently came across a motivational quote from Mufti Ismail Menk:

“Many of us are guilty of overthinking. Remember, the battle starts in your mind. Don’t defeat yourself in your own mind before you’ve even started. Focus your mind in the right direction. Be positive about things. You will see the difference.”

To all those who have supported me through the good and bad times, I thank you. Let’s continue to have hope. Keep on spreading the positivity into the new year and beyond. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

From Sylhet To Cambridge: Reflecting On 60 Years Of Family History And Heritage

During my school days, history was something that hardly filled me with excitement. Even watching Doctor Who episodes set in the past required serious effort to motivate and inspire me, but credit where it’s due, on most occasions they succeeded.

Perhaps as a child, intrigued and fascinated by science fiction and technology (my uncles hold responsibility for that), my interests were focused on the present and the future. The past just seemed dull; a visualisation of the 1960s where everything was in black and white, and out of focus. This childish, indifferent and immature perception of history has since undergone a mature transformation to one of understanding, appreciation and pride.

I am a third-generation British Bangladeshi, born and raised in Cambridge, a city that is renowned for education, diversity and tolerance. I have lived here all my life and am proud to call it my home.

On 26th March 1971, Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. 46 years have passed, but 1971 remains a very important year for me – even more so for my family. Let me explain why this is the case, but first, let’s wind the clock back further to 1957.

1957 was where it all started – the year my late maternal grandfather arrived in Britain. He experienced a difficult childhood after losing both his parents at a young age. He was given the opportunity to work in the UK as he sought a better quality of life, before eventually settling in Cambridge permanently. He arrived at a time when the country was recovering after the Second World War – the period of post-war immigration.

The British economy was undergoing a process of reconstruction and it was soon identified that large numbers of immigrants were needed to support the pressing demands of the UK labour market. This also attracted many workers and their families from the Commonwealth and beyond Europe – mainly from the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. My grandfather entered the business trade, opening and running two Indian restaurants called The New Bengal and The Bengal Tandoor Mahal within the Cambridge city centre. Sadly, these restaurants have since closed down, but photographs of them can be found in the Cambridgeshire archives.

A photograph of the New Bengal Restaurant on Regent Street, Cambridge, published in the city’s local newspaper in May 1973 (Photo Credit: Cambridge Evening News)
2017-04-03-1491252681-317561-bengal_tandoor_mahal_restaurant.jpg
The Bengal Tandoor Mahal Restaurant (right) on Fitzroy Street, Cambridge, circa 1976 (Photo Credit: Cambridge Evening News)

In 1963, my grandmother followed, also settling in the city and has been living here ever since. She gave birth to three sons and two daughters in Cambridge. The daughters were twins; one was my aunt who sadly died in 1997 and the other is my mother – an author, writer and publisher. There are many people in our family and across the local community who particularly remember the birth of my mother and aunt, not simply because they happened to be twins but because of the timing. Two days after they were born, Bangladesh celebrated Victory Day – a significant and momentous occasion in the nation’s history, when the Allied Forces High Command triumphed over the Pakistani Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

My family history in Cambridge goes back exactly 60 years. My family was one of the first from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh to settle in the city, and has seen the Bangladeshi community expand over time. I believe it is important for me to reflect upon such a milestone and understand why I am here today. My late grandfather, who came from a rural village in Sylhet, travelled to Britain because he was given an opportunity – a chance for a better life. Looking back, it helps me to learn about my roots and understand them, and to appreciate my heritage. I wonder how life could have been so different for me if my grandfather remained in Bangladesh.

The lesson I learn from reflecting upon 60 years of my family history and heritage is that I should never forget where I am from. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet my grandfather, as he passed away in 1985. However, he left behind a legacy and made his mark in Cambridge through his work in the restaurant trade. When I first visited Bangladesh in 2002 as an eleven-year-old, I recall a couple of local villagers asking me the names of my grandfathers:

“What is the name of your Dada (paternal grandfather)?”

“What is the name of your Nana (maternal grandfather)?”

I told them their names, and I noticed their faces light up when I mentioned my maternal grandfather’s name. At that moment, I was rather surprised at their reaction and struggled to recognise what was so special about him. Fifteen years on from that encounter, I have a clearer understanding. I feel inspired.

I am proud of my history and heritage. I am proud to be British and to have lived in Cambridge all my life, and I am also proud that my country of origin is Bangladesh.


Source: Huffington Post UK
Date of Publication: 4th April 2017
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ibrahim-rahman/from-sylhet-to-cambridge-_b_15684898.html

The Everyday Muslim Symposium

Welcome to my first blog post of 2015! It’s good to be back and blogging away once more. January has been quite an interesting month for me, and I am here to write about a wonderful event I was part of last weekend.

My mother, Shahida Rahman, was invited to speak at the Everyday Muslim Symposium, held at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. In an evening of exploration into the realms of British Muslim Heritage, she talked about the history of Lascars. A Lascar was a sailor/militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century. I was up next to read a short excerpt from my mother’s novel “Lascar”.

I was followed by some amazing spoken word performances from Tasmia Salim, Amaal Said and Mizan the Poet.

Tasmia Salim is currently finishing her studies at university. Her writing and performances are concerned with the oral traditions rooted in her culture and how personal narratives and histories are passed down between generations.

Amaal Said is a member of the Barbican Young Poets and Burn After Reading collectives. Her work explores the idea of home, identity and what war has meant for her family, among other things. Amaal is currently working on her first poetry collection.

Mizan the Poet (Mizan Rahman) is a spoken word artist whose brand of poetry is inspired by politics and real life experiences.

It was a fabulous event and I would like to thank Halima Khanom and Sadiya Ahmed for giving me the opportunity. I have found that it is a real challenge for some people’s voices to be heard, but that is only part of the battle. The next challenge is to be acknowledged. Everyone who performed had something valuable to share and it is really important that we are given that platform to express ourselves. You just have to keep persevering. Continue to work hard.

Keep on striving.

Lascar: Cambridge Book Launch

I am delighted to announce that I have created a new video! If you’re wondering what this is all about, I would advise two things:
1) Read my blog post Lascar to find out more information. I wrote this back in May 2012, but it will give you an idea of how my mother’s novel was promoted before publication. Basically, this is some light-hearted background reading. Completely optional too.
2) Just watch the video. Enjoy the show!