On Saturday, London was alive with protests. Countless people took to the streets of our capital for a multitude of causes. Yet the freedom to do just that, which we have enjoyed for so long, is seriously under threat — and nobody seems to be angry enough.
The Public Order Bill, which has been through Parliament, would restrict our ability to protest — that is very dangerous in a democracy. In its most controversial parts, the Bill would widen the range of situations in which the Met can act, including being able to ban “noisy protests”. But on Saturday I saw none of that.
There was one group out to object, loudly and proudly, to Mayor Sadiq Khan and his ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). As an asthma sufferer, I support the idea of improving London’s air but it was also great to hear from and see those who fear their livelihoods and communities would be disproportionately impacted by the planned changes. That’s something I have not seen or read much about before. That’s why the fact that they could protest was so important.
I myself was in central London to attend a pro-Somaliland demonstration organized by the UK Somaliland Alliance. They are a group of young Somalilanders who like me were either born or raised in the UK. Somaliland is currently under attack from terrorists who seek to separate three regions — Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn — from Somaliland and rejoin Somalia. I was in Somaliland last month when an army base in Las Anod (Laascaanood) was attacked by terrorists and since then Somaliland’s Government has been trying to calm the situation. Yet sadly, militants backed by Somalia have been causing unrest.
On Saturday, the Somaliland diaspora wanted the world to hear what was going on.
It was an incredibly powerful and colorful day. And when a van carrying a sound system for another larger protest planned for later that day turned up, I went over and asked if we could use their sound system to get our message out. Organizers who had come from across London took the stage one by one to give their speeches and the Somaliland song was played loudly outside Number 10 — something I am not ashamed to say got me quite emotional.
I came to this country after witnessing civil war bought on by a dictator’s brutal crackdown on human rights, like the right to protest — yet 31 years later here I was outside the UK Prime Minister’s residence playing the song written after Somaliland was freed, alongside girls I grew up with in Cardiff and Bristol.
We cannot take that freedom to protest for granted. The reality is when you give a state the power to limit certain rights, you must keep more than an eye out. We cannot be at all sure that everyone who enters Number 10 is going to be someone who will respect the freedoms we have in this country.
Willis’s brave gift to the world
It was Bruce Willis’s birthday on Sunday and the actor who gave us the Christmas movie classic that is Die Hard spent the day with his ex-wife Demi Moore and current wife Heming Willis, and his daughters. Willis, who via his family announced that he was retiring from acting last year after suffering from aphasia, looked happy in the photos, below, shared on social media.
Last month he was officially diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a specific condition few know much about. It has, though, now been getting more coverage thanks to Willis’s brave decision to share his diagnosis with the world.
The breakthrough treatment to help those suffering from dementia is yet to come, but with more high-profile people sharing their stories I hope the investment in the research that could find a cure will come soon. Our aging population will sadly need it.
About Nimco Ali
Nimco Ali OBE (born c. 1982), is a British-Somalilander social activist of Somaliland heritage. She is the co-founder and CEO of The Five Foundation, a global partnership to end female genital mutilation (FGM).
Ali underwent female genital mutilation in Djibouti and later went on to form the Daughters of Eve organization with Leyla Hussein to campaign against FGM. She released her first book in 2019 that contains 42 stories from 152 interviews that Ali collected from women across 14 countries. Later that year she co-founded The Five Foundation with Brendan Wynne, and in 2020 she co-founded the Ginsburg Women’s Health Board with Mika Simmons.
She contested a seat in the 2017 general election under the Women’s Equality Party. In 2019, she supported Boris Johnson, endorsed the Conservative Party, and campaigned for Conservative candidates. She was appointed as Independent Government Adviser for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls in 2020, a post which ended in 2022.
- The UNIQUE Case For The International Recognition Of Somaliland
- The World Can Learn From How Somaliland Overcame Militias
- Somaliland: The Little Country That Could By David Shinn
- Somaliland Declaration On The Origin Of African Borders
- Masuuliyiinta Xidh-Xidhan Iyo Dareemada Dhagarta Xambaarsan Ee Laga Soo Werinayo Dhinaca Madaxtooyada
- Somaliland Is A Beacon Of Democracy In An Unstable Region