When Hashi Mohamed arrived in Britain from Kenya as a nine-year-old Somali refugee, he spoke no English and was grieving the death of his father. Raised in Wembley, he went to a state school where he vividly recalls the headteacher being brutally beaten up. Yet he went on to gain two degrees and now – as a practising barrister – he has written an essential book on social mobility. His tips for success? A “firm handshake, eye contact. Remembering people’s names; making sure you’re on time.”
He tells the 22 people to whom he acts as a mentor to avoid slang such as “innit” and “izzit” – but his methods aren’t always welcomed. “I’ve been criticised for my approach, on the basis that all I am doing is making the case for the status quo.” But those who tell young people not to change are fostering an “equally dangerous idea: that you can go up against the system and win, that you can somehow do it entirely on your terms”. He has himself settled on a mid point. “I’m an insider, but still with an outsider’s gaze”. ( Sathnam Sanghera, The Times, 18 January 2020)
My comment: Isn’t “Remember the firm handshake, the eye contact, people’s names, and making sure you’re on time” what every good Dad tells his children? It certainly was what my own father impressed upon me, even if I do have a total empty hole in my brain where name storage should reside. The real truth is that this man is very smart, very ambitious, a good lawyer – and a supporter of the status quo. You have to admire his get-up-and-go in a foreign country.