Somali activist preaches civic engagement


Minnesota immigrants, especially those from Africa, have come across Nimco Ahmed, the dynamic political activist who has dedicated her life to work for the improved welfare of people of color.

Nimco, who hails from war-ravaged Somalia, has made her mark in Minnesota as a powerhouse in propagating positive civic education to encourage voters to pick appropriate candidates who truly represent their specific political agenda.

She believes that without active involvement in politics, and especially during elections through casting their ballot to deserving candidates, the electorate will have abdicated its constitutional responsibility of supporting eligible candidates who truly represent their interests. When you have the wrong guys assuming office and being a part of the legislature, she laments that they will pass laws that do not reflect the core values of the people.

Nimco Ahmed took her first shot in politics when she worked as an organizer during the campaign of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. He was the source of inspiration for Nimco and when he died in a plane crash, Nimco was devastated.

After Wellstone’s death, Nimco threw her energy into youth mobilization to get young people involved in the political process. During that time, she co-founded the Minnesota chapters of the League of Pissed Off Voters and the League of Young Voters in the run-up to the 2004 elections. She is currently working on the Amy Klobuchar U.S. Senate campaign.

“I love my job. I work hard seven days a week. It is in my heart—you cannot pick it from books, if you care for people, working long hours for the community becomes a rewarding passion.”

That passion has taken her around the country, as she has become a sought-after field organizer. Last year, she was involved in the mayoral primary race in Pittsburgh, before being asked to join the campaign team of then-candidate John Corzine, the current New Jersey governor. She was in high demand again after coming back to Minnesota as the current campaign season got underway. She got calls from the various campaigns of those running for Minnesota governor before deciding to join the Klobuchar team.

Nimco is well known among immigrants of color and especially her people of the Somali community, who constitute one of the largest single ethnic groups among Minnesota immigrants. Coming from such a large constituency, she wields immense political power as a lobbyist. In the local political parlance, she is a political heavyweight of gigantic proportion in-spite of her small body size!

On the current debate about reforming the immigration law and how to handle “illegal immigrants,” she said her candidate supports hard-working immigrants who pay their taxes and believes that they should be accommodated to achieve their American dream.

The second youngest of 11 siblings, Nimco resides in Minneapolis with her mother, MaryAnn. Asked what her family thinks of her activism, she says, “They think I am crazy; they actually call me crazy—but in a loving way.” She says the family does not understand her depth of passion for politics.

She plans to run for office in the future but does not know yet which one she will go for first.