Due to a publishing error on my blog, I have had to re-release this piece of writing. It was written at the time during a heavy period of grief and of course with a lot of love for Ahmed and his family. This piece was originally written in late August 2022.
Sitting down and writing this blog on the tail end of a fantastic August bank holiday somehow doesn’t feel right. Actually being at a point where I feel ready to write has taken weeks but here we are you and me and it feels like the right time.
Bristol Copwatch is due to release a statement about Ahmed Fofanah’s passing and how it has impacted all of us but I wanted to take the opportunity to do the same. I can still remember when we first began supporting Ahmed Fofanah and his family well over a year ago now due to his ongoing fight for justice. Even at his lowest Ahmed had a strength that is rarely seen and a fierce determination to fight for his rights.
We connected due to our shared heritage. Ahmed came from Sierra Leone in Africa and was immediately interested in my family history, in particular, my beautiful father Owen Pegram who sadly left me and my mum in December of 2021 due to a long battle with cancer. Dad was a black South African and Ahmed loved me telling him about our family history.
He told me a lot about Sierra Leone and was deeply interested in the history of South Africa. To say he was Afrocentric was an understatement. His children like myself are mixed-race black people, and his incredibly strong wife Martina is white just like my mum, if you’re a mixed-race kid yourself you’ll know how important our identity is.
My dear friend taught me to embrace the African side of me further just as my dad always has done. I remember Ahmed as a kind and gentle man who was devoted to doing the right thing and helping others, in fact when my dad passed away he was the first person to call me to check-in. He never stopped saying thanks for the help and support we gave him and when we lost him at the beginning of August my heart broke into a thousand pieces.
Ahmed was also a sportsman and I remember watching videos of him and his son boxing sparring at their home in Weston Super mare. He told me he had many fights and I could see from watching the way he moved he was a fighter. To see a strong man like him suddenly up and leave is heartbreaking.
It’s hard to navigate even now but I’ve learned in this life we have to be strong. We have to keep fighting and most importantly we have to be there for one another. When he spoke in public he lit up the room and captivated hearts and minds. I can still hear his strong voice.
Everything we do now as a monitoring group honors his memory and he will always have a place in my heart. I’m sure he and my dad have shaken hands wherever they are. Two of Africa’s children have come home. Rejoice and raise your fist.
Ahmed and his beloved dog Shadow, photo courtesy of Co-POWeR
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