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But without all this opposition, I wouldn’t have followed Jimmi to Iraq, we wouldn’t have married, and we probably wouldn’t have had Freya. She lives in east London with her husband, Shyne Phiri, 41, a Zimbabwean choreographer. An everyday incident in Africa, the death of a child.
I was struck by how lovely and close-knit his family were.
I hadn’t intended to get pregnant in Iraq, but I was overjoyed when I did. My Kurdish wasn’t good enough to talk to Jimmi’s female relatives about the changes I was going through and I couldn’t communicate through Jimmi, as Kurdish women don’t talk about women’s matters in front of men. So I came back to England, heavily pregnant, praying I could find a way to get Jimmi back here. When I calmed down, I realised how unusual it would be if an African man in his mid-thirties hadn’t fathered children.
The process has been traumatic, but now Jimmi has been granted three years’ leave to stay on compassionate grounds because of Freya. He smokes, drinks and eats pork and I can’t get him to listen to the Kurdish music I bought; he loves Tupac. Life’s been tough for us with all the dramas with the authorities. I can’t look after him anymore.’ I’d met her previously and knew they had two boys together. When I was back in Africa for a third time, trying to secure Shyne’s visa for Britain, we learnt his son in Zimbabwe had passed away.
Give Bataa the great outdoors over a shopping centre, any day – the natural world is in his bones. Bataa’s always throwing open the doors and heading into the garden, where we’ve erected a ger, or inviting loads of people round for a Mongolian barbecue. Georgina Hyndman, 22, a stay-at-home mother, is married to Jimmi Awat, 28, from Kurdish Iraq. They have what I call their ‘four big Christmases’, of which Eid is the most fun.
Most modern Western men will tell you that they share the housework 50/50 with their wives. I work long hours in London, so he covers the school run with my parents. They have a nine-month-old daughter, Freya, and live in Plymouth Jimmi and I met three years ago in Flares nightclub in Plymouth. I also loved Kurdish women’s clothing — like maxidresses crossed with pyjamas.