Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Somalia – My journey 2012


Well there you have it, an additional year has whistled by us without any notice upon.  A year of so many up and down’s but with so many historic moments for me personally. I want to recap with you all what a landmark year 2012 has been for me.

2012 got off to a start for me in London, UK. It seemed like just another new year, with not a clue what it will bring for me. As usual, all New Year resolutions were set with full knowledge it won’t last probably more than a month. But still, it gave me reasons and gratitude to set it up. The cold long nights where getting shorter and summer was coming around the corner. All the while, Somalia was always my main interest. I had a slight urge to come home but thought maybe it was too soon. So I waited for the next 6 months, pondering whether I should get out of my comfort zone and contribute to my country in any way possible, even if it meant to just visit.

One sunny May, relaxing at my family home, I just let it all out. “Im going to Somalia guys, what do you all think?” I stated to my family. “Good luck!” was the point blank answer I received from my sister’s whiles my mother, who I always turn to for advice, was supportive and knew it was going to be my destiny. You see, you can never get old from my parents, regardless of your maturity or experience. And I made sure I consulted the person who I have always admired without any hesitation.

As a week went by, I started to read more and view many recent videos of Mogadishu, to see the current situation at home. All in all, I was getting great feedbacks from the views to where I really felt, Somalia is changing for the better. I contacted so many family members back home, all giving me rave reviews of the current situation. I knew my historic moment of going home was very near, although I must admit, fear of the unknown is one fear which frighten the hell out of me.

 As time went on, I gradually got to accept of the decision I had made. I knew it would be tough, but I felt a whole adrenaline going through my whole body. 20 years I’ve been away from home, and could not really remember any visual images, just stories and glimpse of flashbacks. I had to go back.

After excitedly waiting, finally the big day had arrived, May 30th, there was no going back. Ticket all booked, via Dubai, and the time had arrived to wave goodbye to my family. Reality was here and my destiny was Somalia.

On the flight out, there were some Somalis, who just like me, were making the trip back home. We called it “operation Dib Ceelis” (Operation back home) for laugh, to jitter away our excitement to another level. It felt good, I must say, to be surrounded by fellow Somalis, all eager to go back home. 

After a brief stop at Dubai, we headed out on our journey to Mogadishu. This time, the flight was packed to capacity of fellow Somalis, with not a single seat available. “This is Awesome” I thought, to see whole generations, and different accents all going to their motherland. Amongst the passengers were quite a few foreign faces. I had a seat next to a white Canadian woman, who was going to Mogadishu to file a report for her organisation. I asked her if she sees this as a holiday opportunity, with the reply “25 years ago, yes, now, no”. We laughed while I told her simply, “I’m sure Mogadishu will welcome you, as a nation, we are eager for a change”.  Amongst others, were young and old, majority going home for the first time in decades, while other youngsters being their first time ever. It was truly a magical moment. A journey I will never forget.

Approaching Aden Abdulle Airport, Mogadishu
As conversations lasted on, we were getting closer, approaching Aden Abdulle Airport. Flying towards the main airport was the single most fascinating view I have ever came across. I am sure those who have been privileged to go Mogadishu know what I am expressing here, coming towards a beautiful airport with Indian Ocean on the backdrop, absolutely amazing. You must be on a flight to Mogadishu to truly feel a grasp of what I am trying to explain.

As our plane landed, we all looked at one another with the thought of; is this really happening? Are we finally home? One by one, we emerged from the plane, all being welcomed by the bright sun with the smell of salt water, coming from the stunning Indian Ocean. The euphoria is unimaginable, one which runs through your whole body touching the foundation of your soul. Home is where the heart is, and I was sure my heart was at home.

Just into my third month in Somalia, the election was taking due course. It was an historic moment and I had been honoured to be at the front line to catch up all the inside info. First all MPs were selected followed right after by the house of speaker’s nomination. But all this did not beat the race for the top job, the Presidential election. This was our first ever election in just over 40 years, moment to cherish as a proud Somali. I’m sure by now we all know our winner, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a well known civil servant in Somalia.

After some long weeks and months with a lot catching up and consuming our recent election, I had an opportunity brought to me which I could not resist. Somali Youth Development Network (SOYDEN) approached me with an offer to work for them. I mean this is everyman’s dream, to work at your home country and witness the revival first hand. I could not reject this prospect. This was a moment I never expected, but cherished. I had a wealth of experience on working within community projects, and this was just that, to input my expertise to revive the youth of Somalia.

They say the things you never expected tend to be healthy for you, and I took that into much consideration. I knew it would be one massive challenge, but without challenges, you can never know your inner self and the capabilities you possess.

Settling into my new work environment was a major confront.  Not in any negativities but just the learning of the work culture in Somalia. 7.30am is when people tend to start work, with the latest being 8am. Back in the UK, we all almost start at 9am with a 5pm finish. The beauty of Somalia is, by 2.30pm – 3pm, work is done and its time to get home.

Part 2 will consist of my time working and adjusting to my new environment, and will be posted within a week. I wanted to do this because:
  • Time was not on my side
  •  I have a lot more to say and wouldn’t want to bore you all

Stay tuned!

Deeq – Editor - PPG

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Impunity is the Case

Growing up, I was educated to realize that all criminals must and always end up facing the consequences for their crimes. I am sure all around the world, this is the case. Whether you rob or steal, Murder, anti-social behavior or even causing harm to the environment as a whole, you will always end up being punished, regardless of your power. No means would anybody come close to you in case they end up doing time for your actions (assisting a criminal). Even if you are not trapped today, the worry of being caught tomorrow and looking over your shoulder seems, is enough damage as it is. You cannot expect impunity. 

Back home down here, the firearm talks a lot. It has full authority to revolutionize and rule individuals. The man with the most guns is widely agreed as the most powerful. Although, generally, the country is improving, there are still pockets of resistance at rest to be dealt with; as I am sure the government is planning on as I write this.

Our problem is that the war has caused everyone to make up rules down the way. Countless individuals have rooted problems in the country, warlords, militia men, trouble seeking youths and even government officials all guilty in this case. Everyone is one way or another involved in this trouble. But what gets to you the most is, when murderers/warlords are brought into the government, (although a vast amount where withdrawn at parliament registration). This really makes the rule of law seem fragile and without any authority whatsoever. 

But I believe the government is right for this decision. The reason being why is to try and solve a way to maintain or bring back order into Somalia. If these criminals were not brought into powerful positions for the short term, they would still be out in the open causing havoc around the city. So, to get a grip of a chaotic country, you must first shut these guys up and make them believe there in an advanced position. As soon as government influence is rained on the public and peace is restored, the administration, by then with stretched power with a capable army, can start to withdraw warlords out of parliament and try them for their crimes against humanity. 

This is a tactical psychological game, I believe the government is maintaining and one which will be risky, but worth it on the long run. They only drawback it will have, will be the effect with tribal relationships. But we cannot let this be an obstacle to progress. It is time to move on as a nation.

I am sure President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a man with no criminal history, would not tolerate individuals who have caused terror amongst fellow citizens, be involved with governmental posts any longer.

Mohamed Hassan (Dj)