Day 1 #16DaysOfActivism 2023
Join us for #16DaysOfActivism from across the Parallel Lives Network.
I’ll be interviewing network members about their own particular take on activism and what it means to their cause.
The programme runs from Saturday 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – through to Human Rights Day on Sunday 10th December.
Our programme started with an interview with Leicester-based Author, Nash Ramji about his two novels, The Price of Honour and The Price of Honour: Seeking Justice, themed around honour-based violence (HBV).
Nash was interviewed by Delta, studying Journalism at De Montfort University – you can read the interview below.
Nash Ramji was born in Soroti, Uganda until his family were uprooted and given 90 days to leave Nash’s family arrived in the UK and settled in Birmingham in October 1972. After completing his education and gaining a law degree, he moved to Leicester in 1995. He applied to become a magistrate on the Leicestershire bench where he sat in on both criminal and family cases. This led him to sit in on a case of an honour killing, which then inspired his works ‘The Price of Honour’ and ‘The Price of Honour – Seeking Justice’
‘It was Idi Amin who decided to throw all the Asians out of the country’ Nash said.
‘It was a huge culture shock, especially for my parents who had been born in Uganda and had lived there for most of their lives, got married, and had kids. For them it was home’ Nash said speaking about the move.
‘To go from the place that you’re used to an alien country where you don’t know where you’re going to live, what’s going to happen, or what to do when you get there. They had to adapt and it was a struggle.
Nash spoke fondly of his upbringing in Birmingham. Since he was a child when his parents were uprooted, he believes he and his siblings adapted quite quickly to life in the UK. ‘I loved my school days from when I was in Birmingham. I loved my time growing up there.’ Nash said he believes Birmingham has ‘hugely changed’ since his time there but still visits occasionally to see family.
‘I came to Leicester in 1995, It was a job-based move’ Nash said. Nash practiced family law during his time as a lawyer and it was something that interested him. ‘I was also interested in contributing to the lives of young people who were unfortunately in a situation where they were trapped in situations where local authorities were taking control and taking them into care because they weren’t being cared for by their parents.’ Nash said that he wanted to make that contribution. ‘I wanted to make a difference to those children.’
‘Family cases were very sad’ Nash added, ‘It had to do with children who were being taken away to care. But I found criminal cases interesting.’
‘A friend of mine was a magistrate he said to me, “Why don’t you apply because you will make a great magistrate. You have this law skill and background” and I thought, why not! He then applied to become a magistrate, sitting on the Leicestershire bench. Nash said that he always wanted to get involved in some sort of community service and considers it ‘a great move’ on his part.
‘I felt really happy that I was appointed to do something that would be worthwhile and that allowed me to put some of my time into the community and helping others.’
Nash recalls sitting on the case that inspired his book. ‘The case in Loughborough Magistrates Court stuck with me. It was such an important case. ‘Even after leaving the bench, it stuck with me and I thought. I’m going to write a book about this.’
‘I didn’t want to be a lawyer’ Nash added. ‘I wanted to be a journalist. My second choice was law. I unfortunately, journalism wasn’t a career for me for various reasons.’
‘I wanted to write; it was an ambition that I had. I was very proud that I was able to turn my lawyerly skills into writing as an author.’
Nash added, ‘There have been various cases of honour killings over time. The one that stays in my mind is the murder of Banaz Mahmod.’ Banaz was murdered on the orders of her family in a so-called honour killing because she chose to end an abusive forced marriage and she started a relationship with someone of her choosing.
‘I wanted to write a book about the topic I wanted to make a real difference in people’s lives by showing an important message through my book. Honour killing is not acceptable, because it destroys and fragments families and at the end of the day, it destroys a life.’
‘Life is a gift, once life is gone, it’s gone.’
‘Cultures, traditions, religions, they are important because they are the foundation for a lot of families, especially families who are bonded to culture and tradition.’ Nash said;
‘But it is not a be-all and end-all thing. You’ve got to understand that every individual life is an important life, there may be traditions which are different but you need to accept it is your children who are, who you have given birth to, you have a responsibility to care for those children and look after them and bring them up as good citizens. It doesn’t matter that they may form relationships with people who they choose. What is wrong with that?’
‘The main message that comes through the book is that change is important.’
Nash understands the importance that culture, tradition, and religion has on families, which he highlights within the book. ‘The father was brought up in a family where those three things were predominantly important. It dominated his life and he wanted to continue; he thought it was his duty to continue those principles. The way he could do it was to become a fatherly figure, a figure of authority within the family, and transfer those values to his children. The children are expected to carry on the tradition but in reality, this isn’t always the case.
Nash describes his family as being ‘absolutely ecstatic’ throughout the writing process.
‘My daughter was so happy that I was writing a book. She said to me “You’re leaving a legacy for us.” After thinking about it. That’s exactly what I’m doing.’
‘My dear daughter Mariam was a great supporter to me.’ Nash recalls how his daughter would sometimes come to sit in the room and ask to read what her dad had written.
‘Her kind comments kept me going. That kept me motivated all the time.’
‘She would give me feedback and comments about what I had written. She had some ideas that she aired whilst we were talking and I would take those on and I would think about how I’m going to put those ideas into the book. I would store what she said in my brain and take them on board.’
‘After writing my book, I was invited to be on a panel at Desiblitz. There was a literature festival was on in Birmingham and I was invited to talk about my book. It was exciting. It was an honour to be part of an organization that supports writers and artists who are involved in this area.’
I asked Nash about what he thinks the future will look like for ‘The Price of Honour’ series.
‘I am currently writing my third book to end the series.’ Nash said. ‘I wanted to look into doing a prequel to The Price of Honour. I also wanted to look at the children who have grown up in this particular family and look at how they’ve developed, to show whether they’ve taken on the message and if there’s been a change in their lives for better or for worse.’
The Price of Honour and its sequel The Price of Honour – Seeking Justice are available to buy now – https://nashramji.ampbk.com/#book
The interview took place at the 2nd Saturday Heritage Fair hosted by the Documentary Media Centre at the Leicester Adult Education Centre.