‘Pietermaritzburg just felt like home’

2017-04-18 13:38
Amal Ma’ani-Hessari: ‘Living in Pietermaritzburg was the first time I felt like I was not a foreigner.’

Amal Ma’ani-Hessari: ‘Living in Pietermaritzburg was the first time I felt like I was not a foreigner.’ (Supplied)

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The sixth child of a Palestinian mother and fathered by a colonel of the Persian Army, Amal Ma’ani-Hessari now owns a successful Pietermaritzburg business and is loved by many in the city.

“I was born in a small town in the northeast of Iran before moving to the Iranian capital, Tehran.

“We moved to the UK when I was 14 because two of my brothers were already there.

“We moved just before the start of the Iranian revolution and in less than a year in the UK, the revolution began.

“My father was a colonel and was relying on his pension, but when the revolution happened, everything stopped and we became refugees.

“We could not go back to Iran because anyone above the rank of captain was to be executed.

“When we moved to the UK, I could not speak a word of English, but I had a wonderful teacher who used free periods to teach me.

“I schooled in Cornwall and went to design school when I was 17.

“I met my wife, Sharon, while at college. We were married at 23 and moved to Ireland.

“All four of my children were born in Northern Ireland.

“In 1992, I came to South Africa on holiday and fell in love with the country. It was the first time somewhere felt like home.

“We moved to South Africa in 2003 and, after looking for a province to live in, settled on Pietermaritzburg because of the quality education and because it felt like home.

“Living in Pietermaritzburg was the first time I felt like I was not a foreigner.

“People say it is the ‘sleepy hollow’ but I love the gentleness of life here.

“I set up my own graphic design company, One Circle, and have clients locally and abroad.

“I was one of the finalists working with the South African Parliament on the proposed emblem that was launched in March 2007.

“Pietermaritzburg is a good place. I like the speed of life and I am glad our family chose this city to settle in,” Ma’ani-Hessari concluded.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

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