- Ibrahim Omer was born in Eritrea in 1978 but was forced into exile in Sudan in 2003
- He was later arrested by Sudanese authorities for allegedly working as a spy for outsiders and detained under harsh conditions
- Officials from the United Nations came to his rescue and relocated Omer to New Zealand, where he has risen to become a top politician
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A 42-year-old Eritrean national has beaten all the odds to become the first African MP in New Zealand.
Ibrahim Omer, who was sponsored by New Zealand's Labour Party, was part of a team of 40 new faces who made it to parliament after election, the outcome of which has been described as historic.
The Labour Party, which is led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, secured its biggest victory in 50 years, according to Busines Insider.
Ibrahim, who was ushered into parliament on Monday, October 19, did not hide his joy and gratitude as the familiarised himself with the new environment. He thanked the Labour Party and the people on New Zealand for trusting in his leadership.
"Such a wonderful first day in Parliament. What an inspiring and kind group of people we have in the Labour team. Thank you to the MPs and parliamentary staff who welcomed myself and the class of 2020 so warmly. I’m humbled and excited to be here," he said via his Facebook page.
The 42-year politician has walked through storms hardships and whirlwinds of political violence from a tender age. At the age 25, Ibrahim was forced into exile in Sudan where he lived in a refuge camp for several years.
With his basic education, the young Eritrean was hired by the United Nations as their interpreter in refugees camps. He would later be arrested and detained by the Sudanese government over accusations of spying for outsiders.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, however, intervened and saved him from becoming a political prisoner. He was relocated to New Zealand in 2008 where he started working as a cleaner.
He joined the Victoria University of Wellington in 2014 where he continued to work as a cleaner during his free time. Ibrahim studied politics and international relations, a course that ushered into the country's political arena.
He was appointed chairman of the Changemakers Resettlement Forum board, which introduced him to national politics. During the Labour Party campaigns, Ibrahim championed for the rights of the downtrodden and fashioned himself as their defender.
The outfit managed to clinch enough seats, which created room for the Eritrean national to nominated to parliament as a 'list MP', having been ranked 42 on the Labour Party's list.
'List MPs' are akin to nominated lawmakers, they are elected from a party list rather than from a geographical constituency.
In similar news, a Nigerian man identified as John Emeka Akude has made the country proud by making history after being elected member of the Cologne City Council (Stadtrat) in Germany.
Akude became the first councillor of African origin in Cologne, Germany’s 4th biggest city with about 1 million inhabitants, African Courier reports.
Another politician of African origin who participated in the election, Rahab Njeri, expressed satisfaction over Akude's victory. Njeri said though she was not elected, all Africans living in the city were winners with Akude's victory.
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