Olympian great Mo Farah was illegally trafficked to Britain at the age of nine from Djibouti and forced to work as a child servant, he revealed, saying his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin.
The long-distance runner was taken to the UK from the East African country at the age of eight or nine by a woman he had never met, by the name of Mohammed Farah, and then forced to look after the children of another family, he said. BBC TV documentary “The Real Mo Farah” airs on Wednesday.
Farah, who completed the 5,000m-10,000m double at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, previously said he came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia with his parents.
But in stunning revelations, the 39-year-old now says his parents have never been to the UK – his father was killed in civil unrest in Somalia when Farah was four and his mother and two brothers live in the breakaway state of Somaliland. , which is not internationally recognized.
“The truth is, I’m not who you think I am,” says Farah. “Most people know me as Mo Farah, but it’s not my name or it’s not reality.”
The woman who flew him to the UK said he was being taken to live with relatives and that his name was Mohamed as she had fake travel documents that showed his photo next to the name “Mohamed Farah”.
Farah, the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic golds, said his children motivated him to tell the truth about his past.
“I’ve been saving this for so long, it’s been hard because you don’t want to face it and so often my kids ask questions, ‘Dad, how’s that?’ And you always have an answer for everything, but you don’t have an answer for that,” he said.
“That’s the main reason I tell my story, because I want to feel normal and not feel like you’re holding onto something.”
‘Get out and run’
Farah’s wife Tania said that in the year leading up to their 2010 wedding, she realized that “there were a lot of pieces missing from his story”, but she eventually “tired him up with questioning” and he told the truth.
When he arrived in the UK, Farah says the woman accompanying him took a piece of paper from him that had the contact details of his relatives and “tore it up and put it in the bin.
“In that moment, I knew I was in trouble,” he says.
Farah says he was forced to do housework and take care of the kids “if I wanted food in my mouth”, and was told, “If you want to see your family again, don’t say anything”.
“I would often lock myself in the bathroom and cry,” he says.
Farah’s PE teacher, Alan Watkinson, noticed how the young man’s mood changed when he was on the track.
“The only language he seemed to understand was the language of physical education and sport,” says Watkinson.
Farah says it was athletics that allowed her to escape.
“The only thing I could do to get myself out of this (situation) was to get out and run,” he says.
Farah ended up telling Watkinson the truth and informed the 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 recognized 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 okay,” Farah said.
Farah was praised on Wednesday for telling his story.
“We applaud @Mo_Farah for her bravery in telling her moving story,” tweeted the Refugee Council of Great Britain charity.
“He highlights the human reality at the center of as many stories as his,” he added. “And the desperate need for safe and humane routes for people seeking asylum.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)