Sheffield is a city in the North of England. Once, it was an industrial heartland; its people and factories forging the steel that reinforced the backbone of the Industrial Revolution. It’s a city with a rich cultural history too, with bands like Pulp, The Arctic Monkeys, and—most importantly, obviously—Def fuckin’ Leppard hailing from its streets.
Now Sheffield can add another feather into its cap of achievements: Having the Coolest Mayor Ever.
Meet Magid Magid.
Cannot get enough of Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor, Magid Magid pic.twitter.com/35SuoD2eIJ— Camilla Long (@camillalong) May 17, 2018
Now 28 years of age, Magid originally came to Britain as a child refugee from Somalia. He was five years old and couldn’t speak a word of English. Last week he was elected Lord Mayor of Sheffield. This is his inauguration photo:
Former refugee Magid Magid takes up Sheffield Lord Mayor post https://t.co/YMkxOwX9PR— BBC Look North (Yks) (@BBCLookNorth) May 17, 2018
Magid is the youngest mayor Sheffield has ever had, the first Muslim mayor it’s had, and the first mayor the city has had that is a member of the Green Party. His inauguration photo—‘unorthodox’, some might say; ‘absolutely balls-out amazing’, others would—has rightfully been causing some waves on social media and around the world.
This is the Mayor of Sheffield y’all 🙌🏿. His name is Magid Magid, is 28 years old and originally from Somalia. Yes to more young black leaders in this country, London please follow suit! pic.twitter.com/wBpCrvj8tl— Abigail Kwakye (@Abigail_Kwakye) May 17, 2018
Three facts about Sheffield's new Green Lord Mayor @MagicMagid:— Green Party (@TheGreenParty) May 16, 2018
✅ Aged 5 Magid came to the UK as a refugee
✅ Aged 26 he became a Sheffield city councillor
✅ Today aged 28 he became the city's youngest Lord Mayor in history
Congratulations Magid and @SheffieldGreens! 🎉💚 pic.twitter.com/bY5jyGehZ1
A bit about Magid Magid:— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) May 17, 2018
• He’s a marine biologist
• He spent a year trekking the Amazon
• The Imperial March from Star Wars & the Superman theme played at his mayor-making ceremony.
He thanked his mum ‘for putting up with all the shit he’d caused her over the years’. pic.twitter.com/AcU4UVSVFV
Former Somali refugee takes up Sheffield Lord Mayor post. At 28, Magid Magid, is the city's first Green Party mayor - and the youngest ever! https://t.co/6RRU8ldMdU— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) May 18, 2018
Magid Magid is the UK’s first Green Mayor, a former refugee, and at 28 years old the youngest Mayor in the country. Also subject of the coolest political inaugural photo probs ever. https://t.co/O4ii9dDhwA— Chlöe Swarbrick (@_chloeswarbrick) May 18, 2018
Where's my nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Thirst? https://t.co/6Mksd973q0— David Levesley (@DJFLevesley) May 17, 2018
Great to welcome the 122nd Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Magid, Cllr Magid made a very moving speech about his journey from war-torn Somalia to the City of Sheffield. pic.twitter.com/8a0HUzd16e— Shaffaq Mohammed (@shaffaqmohd) May 16, 2018
This is the Mayor of Sheffield y’all 🙌🏿. His name is Magid Magid, is 28 years old and originally from #Somalia. Yes to more young black leaders in this country, London please follow suit! pic.twitter.com/rSN6msQ0ct— Zakariye Ali🇸🇴 (@zakariyaaliii) May 17, 2018
Somali born, Magid Magid makes history by becoming the youngest Lord Mayor of Sheffield City in the UK— Povo News (@povonewsafrica) May 19, 2018
-DOB 1990 in Somalia
-Came to the UK aged 5 as a refugee
-BSc (Hons) Marine Biology
-1st Green Party councillor to become mayor
-Became Sheffield city councillor aged 26 pic.twitter.com/3pBEE9HRpT
So in my first full day as Lord Mayor, - I went viral— 🚀MΛG!D (@MagicMagid) May 18, 2018
- Celebrated the first day of Ramadhan
- Had tonnes of amazing messages and kind words from people from all over the world!
Truly feeing blessed! Thank you! 💚
And I also, pissed off a lot off the far right wing press. Ha!
Naturally, for exactly the same reasons that Magid’s amazing photo and inspiring story has been delighting people around the world it has also seen the dickballoons of hate darkening the horizon. A swarm of trolls appeared on Twitter following Magid’s photo, as if on command, skulking in his awesome shadow and frothing at the mouth with racist bile. Breitbart had an opinion. Katie Hopkins has, to my knowledge, not yet spoken up, but it’s a safe bet to say that she probably will at some point. Lest we forget this is the woman who said she would prefer to use gunboats rather than rescue ships to welcome the refugees fleeing to Europe from across the sea, describing those escaping war and destruction—often caused or exacerbated by Western nations—as vermin.
But enough about those non-people. Those hatemongers are not worth the page space. Magid Magid is. In an interview with the Independent, he was asked about that now-famous inauguration photo and the roller coaster that has been the last week.
Mate… fucking hell… It’s been surreal. Mad. I wasn’t expecting any of this. I’ve no idea why I got up there, mate. It wasn’t planned. It was just me being myself. There’ve been  lord mayors before and I respect them all but I wanted to show I’ll be doing things differently. It just came out of that. I wanted to say this town belongs to all of us.
If me doing this - as a black, Muslim immigrant - can spark someone to go out and change their bit of the world, that’s my job done. That, and to get people talking about Sheffield, about what a brilliant, diverse city it is.
Originally from Burao in Northern Somalia, Magid has a heartfelt affiliation with Sheffield, its people, and its values. ‘To me, it’s always been home,’ he’s said. It was Magid’s mother, Amina Deria, who took him from Burao, then war-torn and no place for a child, and left with him looking for opportunity. Initially spending half a year in an Ethiopian refugee camp, Amina Deria and her son eventually made it to the North of England, where she began working as a cleaner. According to The Independent:
At [Magid’s] inauguration, he entered the chamber to Star Wars music and thanked his mum for “putting up with all my shit” growing up.
“I was a handful,” he explains today. “Typical teenager. The important thing was thanking my mum because she’s the reason I’m here, her courage and determination for a better life.”
Magid had a slow start in politics, but thanks to his passion and charisma he took to it naturally, and proved a fast learner. It was around 2015, when the UK Independence Party were on the rise, making waves and infusing the national conversation with xenophobic poison, that Magid, alarmed by the marked shift in tone, joined the Green Party. In wonderfully eloquent fashion, Magid explained his reasoning to The Independent:
This rising xenophobic language affects me and my loved ones. There’s that expression that if you don’t do politics, politics will do you. I just felt I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and let that language go unchallenged. It legitimises racism and it needs to be tackled. I wanted my voice in the debate. Local politics was a way to do that.
Aside from the power of local politics , Magid’s core political beliefs include free education, the roll-back of PFI (Private Finance Initiatives—an insidious scheme designed to introduce creeping privatisation into the public sector), and abolishing the monarchy.
I think Liz [Queen Elizabeth] is great. Fucking amazing woman. But hereditary heads of state? Come on. It’s outdated.
Magid, mate, I’m a Labour member and voter, but you, my friend, are an absolute boss.