Ahmed Jama: "Bringing Back Peace & Life to Mogadishu" | CookingDistrict.com

Ahmed Jama: "Bringing Back Peace & Life to Mogadishu"

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The theme of MAD3, which took place on August 25th and 26th 2013, in a circus tent on Refshaleøen in Copenhagen, was Guts.

Guts can mean many things in the culinary world, and there was plenty of interpretations from the presenters including the natural, the social, the environmental, the emotional, in addition to the purely culinary. One of the most literal expressions of guts came from this presentation from chef Ahmed Jama in which he shares his story of deciding to leave London in 2008 to return to Somalia, where he has both bravely and matter-of-factly faced challenges and threats that are almost impossible to comprehend for your average chef/restaurateur.

He left his war-torn homeland for the UK in 1989. He studied catering at college in Birmingham, before opening several successful London restaurants. He returned to Mogadishu in 2008, determined to go home to help rebuild the country and economy. “I came to Somalia to change the lives of the people who don’t have somewhere to work and people who have been locked indoors and don’t have anywhere to go and socialize,” Jama has said of his decision, "— to show them, 'Yes, you can laugh when you finish university or office work... You have somewhere to go.'" Since moving home, Jama has been able to open five businesses, which are the among the first modern restaurants in Mogadishu.

Last Autumn, terrorists targeted Jama's restaurant The Village, setting off bombs that killed 14 people and wounded 20. He rebuilt and continued his mission. And just after he returned from giving this presentation at MAD3, a militant group once again bombed the restaurant, leaving at least 15 dead and 20 more wounded. Jama intends to again rebuild and keep going. The team at MAD have set up a fund to help him rebuild the restaurant and help his employees and their families. You can donate here: gofundme.com/rebuildthevillage

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