Ismail Gamadid was crucial in aiding the resettlement of many families to New Zealand.
Hamilton’s Muslim community is in shock following the news one of their stalwarts has succumbed to Covid-19 in his home country Somalia.
Former Waikato Muslim Association and Waikato Refugee Forum president Ismail Gamadid died earlier this week in Mogadishu, where he had recently taken up the role of state minister for agriculture, environment, and climate change for the Puntland region.
Gamadid lived in Hamilton for about 20 years, during which time he became a prominent leader in the Muslim and Somali communities, helping numerous refugee families resettle.
He was also instrumental in establishing the early childhood education centre at the Hamilton Mosque. In 2009, he received the Hamilton Civic Award for services to the community.
Gamadid left New Zealand for Brisbane, Australia, with his family about five years ago, but returned to Somalia last year to take up his role in the regional government. Before he came to New Zealand in the mid-1990s, he was a director in the forestry industry there.
Islamic Women’s Council of NZ spokeswoman Anjum Rahman worked closely with Gamadid for several years and has fond memories of him.
Ismail Gamadid, pictured meeting with then-Prime Minister Helen Clark at the Hamilton Mosque in 2008.
“He was a gift to Hamilton,” she said.
“As a community leader he had a special skill in bringing people together. There are 42 different ethnicities at our mosque, and he managed to negotiate through the differences between them all really well.
“Sometimes we would be sitting in a room with people who were being really aggressive, but I never once saw him get angry. He just went to work to find a solution for whatever the problem was.
“That was just one of his legacies. The early childhood centre at the mosque was the result of his vision. It was not just him on that project, but he had an ability to bring people together to work as one.
Ismail Gamadid and Anjum Rahman worked together to establish an early childhood centre at the Hamilton Mosque.
“He had such strong leadership qualities. Muslim men often get a bad rap for treating women badly, but when I was getting into politics and running for a seat on the council he was nothing but 100 per cent supportive.
“He could have easily become a government minister here, but he chose to return to Somalia.”
According to a post on the Waikato Refugee Forum Facebook page, Gamadid died after doing what he did best – helping people. “He became ill while providing assistance and comfort to those who were affected by the floods there.”
Coronavirus: Former Hamilton Muslim leader dies from Covid-19