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An Interview with Rahma Rodaah


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/12/15


Rahma Rodaah is the Self Published Author of Muhiima’s Quest. She discusses: life prior to the Somalian civil war; coming to Canada at age 8; the experience being the only black girl; enduring and recovering from bullying; the assumed responsibilities as the eldest in the family; the move to Edmonton in 2001; international business at the University of Ottawa; current position, and tasks and responsibilities; the reason for motto “where there is a will there is a way”; having a child; being a self-published author of children’s books and a Muslim; feedback on the books; and plans on a next book.

Keywords: author, Islam, Muhiima’s Quest, Muslim, Rahma Rodaah, Self-Published Author, writer.

An Interview with Rahma Rodaah: Self Published Author[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Being born in Somalia, what was life like prior to the civil war?

Rahma Rodaah: Life for us was very comfortable. My father worked in the Financial sector, but he often traveled so most time it was just my mother, my two siblings and my grandmother at home. I just remember spending my days outside and being surrounded with a large family. That’s the one thing we don’t have here in Canada, our extended family.

2. Jacobsen: You moved to Canada at the age of 8. How was building a life in Quebec and starting to learn French?

Rodaah: Our transition to life in Canada has not been an easy one. It took us a long time to get here, including a detour in the USA before we crossed the border. We left everything behind so it was initially very hard for my parents. The language barrier, getting used to a new surrounding and the climate were the biggest struggles we had to overcome.

3. Jacobsen: What was the experience of being the only black girl, the only Somali in the French classrooms?

Rodaah: It’s only recently that I have started uncovering memories of this period in my life. The bullying I endured in those years was very traumatic. There was even an incident where a teacher tied me to a chair because she thought I was too “disruptive” I was unable to speak the language, and I struggled immensely because of this.

Children pull down my pants; they would taunt me and tease me endlessly. They were most curious about my skin color and my hair which I had never seen as an issue before. It was, and my parents didn’t understand, or rather they had their own battles to overcome.

4. Jacobsen: How did you endure and recover from the bullying?

Rodaah: The bullying did not stop until we moved to Ottawa two years later. Ottawa offered more diversity due to more immigrants settling there, and for the first time, I was no longer the only black or Somali girl in class.

I was able to speak a little French, and I was able to make friends. After some time in a shelter for new immigrants we moved into a neighborhood were a lot of Somalis lived and therefore we found a sense of community, and it started to feel like home for the first time since we arrived.

5. Jacobsen: As the eldest in the family, how did this affect assumed responsibilities within the family?

Rodaah: I always thought of myself as the third parent. My father constantly worked to support us, and therefore my mother relied on me to help with my siblings as well as to help her overcome her inability to speak the language.

I also felt compelled to set an example for my younger siblings. A lot was riding on my education and my success. I was the first to graduate university in my household which for my parent meant their sacrifice and migration worth it.

6. Jacobsen: In 2001, why did you move to Edmonton?

Rodaah: You know at first we had no idea why our parents decided to move us from a place where we felt comfortable and had tons of friends. But years later my mother told us she decided to move to Alberta for better work opportunity for both our father and us.

Edmonton in early 2000 looked nothing like it does today in term of its diversity and number of Somali in its population. In fact, our family was one of the first Somali family to enroll in our French High school. But we quickly got used to it, and we now love being here.

7. Jacobsen: Why did you choose international business in university and to complete a degree at the University of Ottawa?

Rodaah: I actually enrolled in the program of International business with the University of Alberta, but after two years I realized it wasn’t the right program for me. I applied to many universities in Canada, but I decided to move back to Ottawa, and I received a degree in International Development and globalization from the University of Ottawa.

8. Jacobsen: What is your current position? What tasks and responsibilities come with the position?

Rodaah: I am currently working with the Government of Alberta where I work as an income support adviser. We help Albertans receive information and apply to funded programs such as Health benefit and funeral benefits.

9. Jacobsen: Why is your motto “where there is a will there is a way”?

Rodaah: I value hard work and determination. My parent’s journey and their will to get here has always fuel that belief in me. I knew that if I wanted it bad enough and I worked hard for it, anything would be attainable.

10. Jacobsen: How did having a child or becoming a mother influence personal perspective on time, life, and responsibilities in life?

Rodaah: Once I became a mother, I began to reflect more on the things I had gone through and overcome during my childhood. Both my husband and were plucked from our home country due to the Civil war. We had to leave so much behind and forge a new identity and life.

I noticed that my kids are still being asked where they are from even though they are the first generation born in Canada. They have not been or seen Somalia so as far as they are concerned Canada is the only country they know.

I also noticed that as a black Muslim my children would have to overcome these two marginalized identities. Things such as bullying and racism are still prevalent, and I want my kids to have enough confidence to defend themselves and enough knowledge to educate these ignorant views.

11. Jacobsen: As a self-published author of children’s books and a Muslim, what is your hope in portraying characters to the young through the books?

Rodaah: My goal is to showcase black Muslim in a positive light. These two identities are often time the most stereotyped, and it’s important for me to change that narrative.  Positive imagery can have a significant impact on children and its one of the biggest reason I choose to write children books.

I hope my books will enable children the opportunity to see themselves in books they also enjoy to read. I also want to show that as Black Muslim we also have stories to tell and often we go through the same things as others do.

12. Jacobsen: What has been the general feedback on them?

Rodaah: I have received an enormous amount of positive response. I have had a lot of none Muslim advise me they learn something about our culture and faith. So many kids have told me they were extremely delighted to see themselves in the characters.

Parents have commented that the message of inclusion and embracing our differences is an important one they have enjoyed discussing with their children.

13. Jacobsen: What is your next planned book?

Rodaah: I am currently working on two new pictures books, but I also plan on writing a chapter book for teen and early readers in the future. I just had my third child, however, and it is taking me longer to complete any work.

14. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Rahma.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author.

[2] Individual Publication Date: December 15, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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