Hala Abusin

Hala Abusin was born in Sudan and came to the UK in 1980, aged 16. She works as a pharmacist and discusses her education at school and university in England and her experiences at work. Hala talks about the cultural differences she encountered, how the pharmacy profession has changed over the years, and her Sudanese identity.

My name is Hala Abusin, I am North African, afro-arab that's what I call myself. I am a pharmacist. I wasn't born in the UK. I came here in 1986. My immediate first thought was leaving family and friends, extended family and friends. I’m part of a big family network. there was the fear of the non-familiarity of my new school/college where I would be studying. I guess that was...at 16, that would be the first thing you think about.


If you think about the majority of [Black] NHS nurses are actually from the Caribbean, Trinidad, Jamaican origin, West African so now suddenly I’m the person here who is from a part we don’t know about.


Do you still feel a very strong sense of Sudanese identity?


Very much so, very much so. I go home quite a lot now that I’m a mother of two they need to know where I grew up. So I take them, I take them them to my old school. I took them when they were really young and realised it doesn’t mean anything to them it’s a building. So I took them again, and I took them again, and the third time they were like ‘we know this is your school'. So I said, let’s go to the swimming pool where I used to compete, I used to do swimming. 


I remember when I first came here with my dad, initially it was just my dad and I. And he would say to me 'I often talk to people about identity, and I very simply say to people if you speak your language, eat your food and dress in  your national dress you will never lose you identity. Because one of those three things will save you'. 


if I was going to give my younger self advice, it’s to really stay true to my roots, which I have done and studying my history studying the history of where we've come from to the powerful women that were before us and they set the way for us. And one of the other things I wanted to say was taking part in community events.


One of the things I'm really, really trying to stay true to and advise younger people now is: you have to really master the art of being yourself. Because you can not be anybody else. Everybody else has their own blueprint.