Hodan’s Story

Tireless activist, journalist, and single mother of two, Hodan Nalayeh returns to her birth country of Somalia on a mission to spread light, in a world where many only see darkness. #CBCShortDocs #HodansStory @INTEGRATIONTV

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Hodan Nalayeh’s life story is one of passion and inspiration. As a young, idealistic Somali-Canadian journalist and single mother of two, Hodan was determined to defy the odds and smash stereotypes. She had always dreamed of changing the narrative of the Somali community that is often portrayed in the media. After finding traditional networks were less willing to tell the kinds of stories she wanted to share, she decided to take matters into her own hands and created Integration TV, the first English-language online platform for Somalis around the world. Hodan began sharing positive stories about a community that is so often maligned and quickly became a household name. And yet, she still felt like something was missing. In 2013, she reached out to Dwayne “Dukez” Holness, a Toronto-based videographer, community advocate and storyteller. They instantly connected, and Dwayne agreed to film Hodan’s emotional trip back to Somalia, 25 years after she had fled her home with her family. In the years that followed, Dwayne joined Hodan on her travels as she rediscovered and reconnected with the people in both Somalia and the Somali diasporas. Her reporting caught the attention of BBC Africa, and she quickly gained a following as a popular on-air host. There was only one filming trip when Dwayne couldn’t join Hodan. On that trip in July 2019, Hodan was killed in a hotel bombing along with her new husband. She was pregnant at the time. Hodan’s death was a tragedy and a devastating loss. But this is not a tragic story. Dwayne’s film is ultimately a moving and intimate tribute to his friend and collaborator — to her powerful work and inspirational life.

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