DOWN TO EARTH: Hussain Manawer takes a break from prepping for his trip into space
IF YOU haven’t heard his name yet, you’ve seen his face. Hussain Manawer has packed a lot into his 25 years and most of it has been streamed by viewers that reside way beyond his east London ends.
Manawer began to attract a cult YouTube following three years ago with his Hussain’s House channel, which features hilarious, off-the-cuff chats with the likes of Kevin Hart, Brandy and Charlemagne tha God.
A chance meeting with a top-ranking record executive will allow Manawer to add ‘mixtape’ to his list of achievements. A poetry compilation with a mental health awareness theme will be dropping in April courtesy of Universal.
More recently, his YouTube channel has been peppered with serious content that puts Manawer in the in- terviewee seat on BBC News, making keynote speeches about the importance of educating young people on how to look after their mental health and sharing his imaginary manifesto on ITV News’ Mayor for a Day.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Hussain Manawer pays a visit to Boy Better Know, from left – DJ Maximum, Skepta, Hussain Manawer, Shorty and JME; inset below, interviewing Kevin Hart
Putting his comedic platform to good use, the mainstream began to sit up and take notice when he wowed dignitaries at the One Young World conference in 2015 with a poetry piece on mental health so compelling that it won him a trip into space.
Life & Style travelled east of the river to learn more about the first British Muslim that will go into space.
L&S:You’re going into space – what do you have to do to prepare?
HM: I’ve had a G4 Aerobatic flight training experience. I flew over to Holland for it and met a German pilot called Hank – he was militant! They’re teaching me weightlessness, which made me feel a bit sick. You have to be fit to be a commuter in a space ship. My next training session will be in a fighter jet in Russia!
L&S: Why did you choose to champion mental health, of all the causes in the world?
HM: If we can tackle this, we can tackle everything else! When we learn to love ourselves and feel comfy in our skin, we can start focusing on other people’s needs – there are people really suffering because of a lack of women’s rights or immigration rights in the Middle East, for example.
I think I have a voice – no pun, ha ha! – I have a platform and it would be selfish for me to not use it. I’ve been around people with mental health issues, so I’ve had experi- ence of its impact first-hand. People get wary, but we ain’t gonna catch it, it’s not a cold.
A lot of young people I knew at school are struggling, unlike, say, Jamie and Anna who go camping and to farms, whose parents didn’t have to leave their place of birth for a better life for their children.
Those people, like our grandparents and parents who did that – they didn’t have time to deal with severe mental problems – they’d rather say ‘he’s got the devil’, not ‘he’s got depression and he needs help’. For young people, learning about how to stop themselves going over the edge mentally is so important.
L&S:What for you would be the best possible outcome from your trip to space?
HM: For mental health to be taught in schools as a compulsory subject in the UK. We’re not taught about things that are really important, like taxes and mortgages, but we know about the cells that are in a plant.
Limiting access to that kind of knowledge is how the rich stay rich and people like my mate Afghan Kid, who’s making about £50,000 a month from posting YouTube videos, is getting emergency tax, and he’s got no idea what he’s doing wrong!
I want to influence education watchdog Ofsted, so that’s why I’m gonna try and set a world record for the largest mental health lesson on March 21. There will be 1,000 students from 30 schools that will sit the lesson with me and experts at Hackney Empire.
L&S: At a time when Islam is under so much scrutiny, how significant do you think it is that a young Muslim from east London is going to space before the world’s eyes?
HM: Sometimes the racist abuse I get online from people that hear about what I’m gonna do is long! One guy online said ‘you will blow up an airport’. When I see stuff like girls from Bir- mingham going to join Isis, it breaks my heart.
They want to feel like they’re part of something. What they’re doing is not representative of all Muslims. When I do go into space and show people that the education system and mental health care in this country can change
because of what I’m doing, I will say ‘judge us (Muslims) on that’. I’m letting the work talk for itself.
To keep up with Hussain, follow him on Twitter @HussainsHouse and Instagram @Hussains_House