Olympic gold medalist Sir Mo Farah has revealed he was illegally trafficked to the UK as a nine-year-old, flown over from Djibouti and that his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin.
In a BBC documentary to be aired on Wednesday “The Real Mo Farah”, the athlete says that in fact he was trafficked to London in the 1990s under an assumed name after escaping war in Somalia.
Farah recalls his mother sending him and his twin brother Hassan to live with his uncle in the nearby Djibouti for their own safety after their father was killed. The long-distance runner also remembers that a woman often visited to observe him before he was told she would be taking him to Europe to live with relatives. There, he was allegedly forced to live in domestic servitude for her family.
“From day one, what the lady did wasn’t right. I wasn’t treated as part of the family,” he recalls. “If I wanted food in my mouth, my job was to look after those kids, shower them, cook for them, clean for them, and she said, ‘If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything or they will take you away.’
Sir Mo, who now lives in South West London with his wife and children and who became the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals, said his children have motivated him to be truthful about his past.
“Family means everything to me and you know, as a parent, you always teach your kids to be honest, but I feel like I’ve always had that private thing where I could never be me and tell what’s really happened.”
He was warned by a barrister that although he was trafficked into the country as a small child and told authorities the truth, there is a “real risk” that his British nationality could be taken away. However, it is understood the Home Office will not be taking any action against Sir Mo.
Scores of high-profile figures including politicians and celebrities praised Farah’s “strength and bravery” following the shock revelations.