The proud daughter of a leader of the Somali community in Sheffield has paid tribute to her dad after his death.

By Claire Lewis


A Somaliland-born, Abdi Saeed Farrah, aged 83 and who was known as Berberaawi, was buried this week in a service which could only be attended by immediate family due to coronavirus social distancing measures.

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The father-of-six, who moved to Burngreave in 1985, was a respected Somali community elder.

His daughter, Safiya Saeed, who is also well known through her work with Big Brother Burngreave – a project which aims to divert young people from gangs – said people from around the world have paid their respects to her dad in the wake of his death.

She said he was known in a number of countries and could speak seven languages since starting his working life at the age of 10 and travelling the world.

“My father was born in Somaliland and left home at the age of 10 to work, going from ship to ship and doing anything to earn a living for him and his family,” she said.

“He had a very strong work ethic all his life and did so many things, whether it was cleaning boats or helping those on the British military ships. He just wanted to a better life and to provide opportunities for his family and friends. I think this is why he is so well known around the world, because he helped so many people.”

She said in his impoverished days when he was younger, her dad used to dig a hole in the sand close to the boats he worked on to sleep at night.

Eventually he found work in Dubai as a driver in the engineering industry and was able to afford a two bedroom home for his family, albeit without a roof.

His proud daughter said: “In the Somali community in Sheffield he was very well respected.

“He treated people right and had a motto that if you hire someone to do a job for you to pay them before their sweat hits the floor.”

Mr. Farah is survived by his wife Asha, five of his six children – Safiya, Ali, Zahra, Yassin and Hawiya – plus 11 grandchildren.

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