I was born in Mogadishu in 1953 during the Italian Trusteeship and educated in Italian schools. In 1971 I left Somalia during the Siad Barr dictatorship. I moved to northern Italy with my husband, an Italian citizen. While I raised two daughters I travelled extensively because of my husbands’ work living in Zambia, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. Returning to Italy I collaborated with different women’s group associations who dealt with social and immigration problems. In 1994, as a result of my reaction to the horrors of civil war in Somalia I wrote an autobiographical novel published in Italian called 'Far from Mogadishu.'
My love for Africa brought me to live in Kenya for several years. I continued to write and published several short stories. In 2010 I completed my second novel (in Italian) 'Clouds by the Equator - The forgotten Italians.' This is the story of mixed race children (known as “Meticci”) of Italian Colonists ignored and discriminated against by the Italian authorities. As a result of my novels I have been described as “an example that inspired a new generation of migrant writers”.
I came to the UK in 2010 because of an unquenchable thirst for travel, and to come into contact with different cultures, new ideas together with a daughter’s wish to study in Birmingham, England. Living in the Birmingham area gives me energy, because it is a multicultural city. When the weather is gloomy, shops are filled with exotic fruits that give colour and warmth. I live in Smethwick (just outside Birmingham) and work as a volunteer reader in local schools and is involved in the families and schools together programme helping families bond, supporting parents and children in Year One and reception classes.
I love meeting people and taking part in my neighbourhood, that is why I joined my local school as a volunteer. It is rewarding sharing your time and skills, especially with children. I have been active in Women’s support groups. I am currently training at Sandwell College to be a volunteer mentor. Being part of a women’s group is connecting and discovering the real problems and strength of a community. My writing has brought me in to contact with the Italian Department at Warwick University who run a 3 year programme Transnationalizing Modern Languages I still return to Italy spending the summer with my other daughter and grandchildren.
I have recently translated my book 'Lontano da Mogadiscio /Far from Mogadishu' from Italian into English. This new edition expands the book with new chapters deliberately tackling on the painful issue of the Somali diaspora in UK. Writing for me is telling stories of people who are invisible in a society. I am inspired to write against injustice and stereotypes.
For more information about Shirin's book: The bilingual e-book edition is now available on - line at Amazon.uk at the following link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_13/280-6186979-7738254?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=far+mogadishu&sprefix=far+from+mo%2Cstripbooks%2C577 You can view an interview with Shirin on You Tube at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta80RQ-IfvQ