ICONS – Black Excellence

Words by Husam Elgenied

With this post I am going to go through the black excellence in my family. Coming from Sudanese heritage and a UK upbringing, I am going to tell you about the most influential people in my life. 

How do you define black excellence? For me, it’s a black person who has inspired everyone around them, and more importantly, the culture. Black excellence is a super power that can be used to ignore the negative, attract the positive and to create new pages in the ever-growing book of black culture. This month is not to remove ourselves from the world; it is for remembering what the world has given us, good and bad. 

Sakina Algizoli 1935-2011 (Grandmother/Nina) 

My grandmother was born in a transitional, extremely tough and important period for women’s rights. At the time Sudan was colonized by the British, who came to impose their policies. They took control of the country by filling the highest administrative posts in government and the military with British officials. During all of this, Nina was determined to win the war through knowledge and specialised in the maths, history and English subjects. She eventually worked her way up the educational ranks from being a teacher to becoming the vice president of the Sudanese Ministry of Education in Sudan, as well as being the Chief Executive of Sudan’s girl guiding group. In the 60’s she entered an international short story competition, which included 5000 people, she won one of the 5 prizes available and collected it by winning a trip to America where she was presented with a library of free books. Her biggest achievement was being one of the pioneering women who established the “women’s union” who fought constantly for women’s rights which include the fight for education, forced marriages, job opportunities, genital mutilation and more. This group still lives on today, as does her vision, spirit and power. A true establisher for her generation. 

Osman Ahmed Elbashir 1937-2017(Grandfather/ Jido) 

Jido was a man who strongly believed in doing what you love. He also grew up in a colonized Sudan and was educated in the formally named Gordan Memorial college, which later became the university of Khartoum. He studied media management and during his early 20’s he started refereeing university football games as a hobby. After realising this hidden talent he carried on refereeing until he became the leading Sudanese referee in the country and one of the most notable in Africa. At the time being a referee, even of that stature, did not pay well and he went into other ventures in order to support his family. This included being the general manager of a broadcasting company and a stint being the President of the Coco Cola branch in Sudan. After being announced as the Vice President of African Referees, he found out during his trip to attend a conference in Kenya that he had diabetes, and unfortunately had to have his leg 

amputated immediately. On his return he was given a heroes welcome at the airport and after carried on travelling and representing the referee committees in various world cups. This man never let anyone or anything bring him down and never took no as an answer – a real black icon. 

Rehab Ahmed (Mother) 

Due to the success of my grandparents they where determined to create an environment for growth and education for their children. My mother strongly believed in the common term “Knowledge is power” and began that journey in the girl guides from the age of 5. She later became a guide leader and travelled to international camps to experience different cultures. She then studied at Sanaa University in Yemen; there she received her BA in English Language and Sociology. She describes this time, as “extremely challenging” due to the significantly conservative ways of the country, however she did not let that stop her from receiving her education. She moved to London in order to complete her masters in translation at the University of Westminster whilst simultaneously being an incredible mother to 3 children and working in immigration. She is now a professor teaching English as a second language (ESL) in the United Arab Emirates. My mother was always into football an avid Liverpool fan; she came to all my games and was shouting at me constantly. When I was 15 she was voted in to be the first black Female manager in the league, going on to win the league unbeaten and winning manager of the year at my local club. She will forever be an inspiration me. Her determination to be the best at whatever she does will carry on for generations in this family. 

Seif Elgenied (Father) 

My father has been working to provide for his family from when he was a child. He has 11 siblings and being the second oldest male member of the family, huge responsibilities where given to him. After completing what was equivalent to GCSE’s in Sudan, instead of going to university he decided to go into the police academy and gain his education from there. During his time at the police academy my father was also playing football for one of the biggest clubs in Sudan Al Merrikh. Due to the rules and regulations he had to pick one career path to pursue and knowing that the money in sport in Sudan was not great, he decided to carry on with the police academy. After working his way up through the ranks going from being a lieutenant, climbing up the military ladder and finally becoming a general. He went on to work in several sectors of policing which included governed work, private and freelance services. Being in Sudan my father is a well-known man currently owning factories and many pieces of land with the idea of passing over his successes and possession to his kids. My father is one of my biggest supporters a very practical and intelligent man, he’s a born leader. 

Aza Elgenied (Sister) 

Annoying, as she is my sister is amazing. She has not only inspired me, however, has also made my family proud. She continues the trend of exceptional females in 

my family by graduating with first class honours in international relations and politics from Queen Mary university of London, and is currently doing her masters at one of the world’s best universities, The London School of Economics and Political Science. My sister has travelled a lot and is very politically active; she wants to learn about different environments in order to educate herself with a valid opinion, thought and argument. Still finding her true passion, she finds herself drawn to diplomacy and policy-making at an institutional level rather than for a particular government. She’s drawn to the ‘global’ and the need for the application of a people-centered, intersectional approach to foreign policy and diplomacy. My sister is a powerful, young black woman who I am sure will shift culture, touch lives and impact the future. Good luck little sis! 

Honourable mention: Bobby Emmanuel (14HQ) 

The past three years have personally been the most progressive in my life and part of that is due to this man. Meeting on the university football team, shoutout to the Spartans! Bobby and I first worked together on a TV pilot I was directing, it was a fun and long experience however I think we showed each other what we could do. The summer of 2016, we decided we wanted to own our own, build something, provide a platform and most importantly influence our culture. Now we have 14HQ, and with our brilliant


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