British ambassador looks into ‘son of Dartmouth man’ claim
Nim’an about to get into a taxi in Hargeisa
Friday, July 05, 2013
THE newly-appointed British ambassador to Somalia says he will look into claims a Dartmouth man’s son is living in Hargeisa.
Neil Wigan, who only took up his post at the start of this week, was responding to email sent by this newspaper.
He said that prior to taking up his post he had been briefed about
the claims made by Nim’an Bowden, published in this paper last week,
that his father was Brian Bowden, who had married a Somali woman and
worked at the former British embassy in Mogadishu.
Water engineer Brian Bowden, who left Britain for Somalia in 1958,
stayed behind when the British embassy was evacuated during the Somalia
civil war in 1991. He was killed shortly afterwards by an armed gang.
Mr Wigan said he would be consulting with local colleagues to assess the latest information before getting back to us.
Meanwhile, a humanitarian aid worker based in Hargeisa, Somaliland –
which declared its independence from Somalia, though that has not been
officially recognised by the UK – told us that Nim’an’s case had
received support from around the world.
Hassan Ahmed Yousuf told us that Nim’an quest for British
citizenship had backing from supporters in the USA, Britain, the United
Arab Emirates, Somalia and Kenya.
He added that pledges had been made to help fund costs the might be incurred during the process.
Hassan said: ‘Nim’an’s mother, Run Aw Daahir Mohamed, died in 1994,
when he was six years old, in Hargeisa and so he had lost both parents.
‘The family of his mother were nomads and farmers in the Gabiley
district and his grandmother and grandfather were alive at the time.
‘He was once taken to a rural area to help his mother’s family keep a few head of cattle but soon his grandmother died.’
He said Nim’an’s grandfather then took him to an orphanage centre in Hargeisa.
Hassan added: ‘After the death of his grandfather, the young boy
suffered and left the orphanage and became a street child, totally
neglected. He became a shoe polisher.’
He added: ‘After 2007, Nim’an joined Hargeisa buses for whom he became car washer and also a conductor.
‘He took the driving licence in 2011 and also married 21-year- old Ma’aruf Ahmed Mohamed, who is a Somali-Ethiopian.’
Nim’an is asking the British Government to grant him and his wife British citizenship. They have no children, said Hassan.
It has come to light this week that Nim’an and his supporters have
been pressing his case with the British authorities for a number of
Mark Jones, the London-based chief executive of the Horn of Africa
Business Association, had written to his local MP, Heidi Alexander, in
2011, raising concerns about Nim’an.
Ms Alexander in turn raised the issue with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Henry Bellingham MP, who was Minister for Africa, the UN, Overseas Terrorities and Conflict Issues at the time, responded.
A copy of the letter sent to Mr Jones via Ms Alexander has been sent to us.
In it, Mr Bellingham said: ‘I am sorry to learn of the difficulties
Mr Brian Bowden’s family has faced over the past twenty years. The
decision in December 1990 to evacuate British nationals from Somalia was
made out of concern for the safety of British people in Somalia and was
not taken lightly.
‘Our records indicate that only one British national chose to go
against the advice and remain in Somalia. Mr Bowden’s decision not to
leave the country was a personal one and went against the advice of the
British Government; he would have been aware of the risks of staying.’
Mr Bellingham added that it was ‘difficult to say whether Mr
Bowden’s family would qualify as British citizens without assessing all
the evidence available’ and suggested they contact the UK Border Agency.
As we reported last week, Aidan Hartley, former Reuters journalist,
author and correspondent for Channel 4’s Unreported World, met Mr Bowden
shortly after the embassy was evacuated in January 1991.
Mr Hartley recalled a conversation with an official at the British
High Commission in neighbouring Kenya in his book The Zanzibar Chest.
In it he wrote: ‘I asked why the British were doing nothing to help
him. The diplomat explained that under Government regulations, a
citizen must cover the cost of his own repatriation, even from a war
‘Bowden was destitute... and he had a black Somali wife and five
children. The Government could not under these circumstances evacuate
either Bowden or his large mixed-race family.’
The BBC also reported at the time that, in an interview shortly
before his death, Mr Bowden said he had stayed behind because his wife
was a Somali and he did not have enough money for a flight to the UK.
Nim’an’s supporters have since 2011 been gathering more evidence to
support his claim, including searching publicly available family
They obtained a copy of Brian Bowden’s birth certificate earlier
this year, showing he was born on June 27, 1928, at Prospect House, Horn
His father was William Thomas Bowden, a labourer, and his mother Rita Leah Kate Bowden, nee Lidstone.
The supporters, who have sought advice from a major UK charity, now
hope people who knew Brian or are related to him will come forward.
If you knew Brian Bowden, please email stuart.nuttall@ tindlenews.co.uk or telephone 01548 856353.