This month, October, the UK and several other countries in Europe mark Black History Month — an opportunity to celebrate the sometimes overlooked contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent.

MAG colleagues working across more than 25 countries have chosen to spotlight some of the incredible Black women and men who inspired them over the last 30 years since MAG has been in operation.

The people profiled below are important to MAG staff, but this list could have been so much longer given the huge number of Black figures across history who remain unsung.

Halima Ibrahim, as chosen by Elimam Hassan

For Elimam Hassan, a community liaison manager working with MAG in Iraq, his inspiration is Halima Ibrahim — his mother.

Elimam says:

"I feel proud to be a Black African — I grew up in a small village in western Sudan where education had no place and encouragement.

"But I am proud of my mother, who encouraged me and made every possible effort to complete my education.

"I am now the first and only Sudanese person who has worked and is still working in MAG and the only Black person in the Iraq programme.

"Such a high position could not have been achieved for Black people like me if not for my mother's struggle to support my education and the equality of employment and the diversity of people working in MAG."

Shirley Chisholm, as chosen by Delia Maphosa

Delia Maphosa, MAG's diversity and inclusion manager, has been inspired by the first-ever Black candidate to run for a major party's nomination of President of the United States — Shirley Chisholm.

Delia says:

"My inspiration was the first African American woman elected to Congress.

"Beset by racism and sexist opposition, Shirley Chisholm not only became the first female to run for Presidency, but she also advocated for people's rights, especially those in underserved communities — under the banner 'I am and always will be a catalyst for change'.

"She made me realise that it is OK to be a strong woman with a strong mind and an equally strong personality and that I shouldn’t be afraid to stand out and stand up for what I believe in and to do it unapologetically.

"She made me realise I am not defined by gender imagery, the colour of my skin or my age. Her famous slogan 'UNBOUGHT and UNBOSSED' is a strong and fierce declaration that has given me courage and boldness to continue being authentic to me and what I stand for."

Nelson Mandela, as chosen by Philip Mwatsera

Philip Mwatsera, MAG Zimbabwe's deputy community liaison team leader, has been inspired and driven by Nelson Mandela and his ability to use his experience of oppression to build a positive future for his country.

Philip says:

"There are many people who inspire me from various walks of life. Some are famous people who have changed the world for the better. I feel that it was the vision and determination of Nelson Mandela that became the epitome of the fight against the unjust and tyrannical apartheid system of South Africa.

"For the cause of creating an equal and fairer society, Nelson Mandela paid with an interminably long jail sentence. Yet, despite the injustice of going to jail for trying to overthrow apartheid, Nelson Mandela did not become embittered and vengeful.

"Nelson Mandela has many good qualities, but, undoubtedly, his quality of forgiveness rates very highly. After oppressing the majority population for so many decades, Mandela sought to maintain a dignified stance, forgiving those who had so unjustly incarcerated him.

"His life and vision inspired me to work hard in my education to achieve BSc and MSc degree in sociology and social anthropology and work hard in fighting poverty and inequality — above all, working hard to achieve a fairer society."

Delia Maphosa, Elimam Hassan and Philip Mwatsera

MAG is pleased this October to draw your attention to just a handful of the amazing people who continue to inspire our colleagues around the world.