Sunday, 26 May 2013

Tales of 2 cultures

“1 tea with lemon, 2 sugars please” I ask. Quietly, the lady passes my order while I pay her for the service, “Mahadsanid” (Thank you) I said. With a bleary response I receive a “where are you from?” “Somalia” I state sarcastically. “No, I mean where did you reside before coming here?” I replied back with “Ohio” just for the heck of it. Smiling, she leans over and whispers in Somali “People think you Diaspora’s are arrogant but I think your manners will change our country”. Why she said, I will never know but cannot forget that day.

From there, with me being me, carious, I started to focus more on people’s conduct in my ancient city of birth, noting the response, the greetings and so on. A survey kind of habit, from the caasi (Bus) drivers, (I highly recommend you read 20 minutes in a Caasi) relatives, work colleagues, the average individual and whoever I can find that would quite possibly contribute into this fact finding mission. And boy was I in for an adventure.

Driving towards a narrow road space for one vehicle, a car comes approaching from my front who seemed as if he was in rush, I paved way for him and gave him a flash light signal to make it aware for him to come forward. Without any hesitation, he revved passed me. as I watched him move alongside me expecting a hand signal, wave, whatever that could let me know of his appreciation, but no, nothing, heck I don’t even believe he noticed me so I thought otherwise and let him pass on that without any hesitation. Maybe he was late for work? Maybe he was picking someone up? Or just maybe that he was a joy rider, pretty much everywhere nowadays, who hadn’t even noticed me. I chose the most reasonable answer and let it pass by me.

Heading on and driving along Maka Al Mukarama Road, I looked at my petrol meter and it needed filling ASAP. So I pulled over to a make-shift petrol station, a middle aged lady with plastic full of petrol on the side walk (there are at least 100s of private petrol stops along Maka Al Mukarama). I called her over, told her I needed some gas filling with again, a friendly tone, as a way to respect her dignity. She smiled as she was filling up my car, but I don’t think she noticed me looking at her as I had my dark sunglasses on to protect my visual sight from Mogadishu’s bright sun. 

I paid her the cash in dollars and generously, told her to keep the change as a tip. She smiled and said “thank you dear”. I looked at her and said “no problem”.  Before driving off, she pulled me back and said “why has a young man like you come back into this nightmare of a country”. I replied back smiling with a clutched fist, one word and knowing that any more response would make us go back and forth; “Wadani” (Patriotic). Never have I seen a smile so colorful that followed after my response.  

Although good conducts take you very far elsewhere across the world, I must add that sometime, manners are taken as a sign of weakness in Mogadishu. You can only be so polite for so long. Everybody has their rude side, me included and trust me, you wouldn’t want to see that. Coming from abroad, people generally view you as rather soft or weak but little do people know one can have smart moves hidden that you can never visualize. You see and hear everything but keep so quiet and ware, and hit them your actions like a toxic lethal injection. I was always told that the loudest mouth in the room tends to be the one who knows nothing and trust me, not that I am labeling anything or anyone; there are a lot of loud people here. The smart guy keeps quite and real low, grabbing everything along the way.

Sometimes in life, to get what you want, you must play by the rules and if you can make them to your advantage, even better.

With that being said, you can’t rule out the fact that I love my people and love my city.
Long Live Soomaaliya!

Mohamed Hassan (Dj)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Am I a tourist in my hometown?

I’m sure a lot of you had noticed that I haven’t updated Moga Tribune for over a month. This was due to a heavy schedule. As you’re well aware by now, Somalia is currently witnessing a revival and to be honest the shift of my energy had been inputted into this wonderful task witnessing history before my own very eyes. Earlier in the month, I had received an email from a young Somali who currently is based in Mogadishu having grown up in London like myself. I wanted to share with you all his work as I embrace others experience. So here it is:                           

My name is Yasin Omar Shakur and this is my article for the world to read. My hometown is my background; Mogadishu the real city that never sleeps. I was only couple of months when my mother flew me abroad because of the danger that’s been happening the past twenty one years. April 2012 my first time back to Somalia fair and excitement is what I was feeling confused in what I was expecting. I spent most of my life in the United Kingdom which feels more homely then my motherland. Complications is what I been through the past couple months I manage to adjust in hearing gunshots and explosives. Insects played a big role for my complications as some I only laid eyes on them whilst I was here catching them crawling on my skin. The environment looked dirty, muddy, and sandy and jam packed with loud and aggressive people that only expected the worse.

I learnt a lot about my hometown, but then it’s the people who make the town and I realized the people of Somalia; some are friendly and some aint so friendly. An eye of a person sometimes can say everything. A person from abroad is looked at as an outcast, however, attention is what I never give but my ears hear clearly the whispers and my eyes sees the truth. April 2013 I spent a year in Somalia and the fair still hides inside me being suspicious towards everyone. I have made good friends from abroad like myself and locals who are loyal; a view which I thought was seen by me only.

Then one day, it happened unexpectedly, loud and powerful, what could it be? And all of a sudden, we were in the centre of a group of boys from abroad, and an explosion occurred, the big bang left us with echoes ringing in our ears. A scared silence, an above us began a battle, clueless in what to do, we all lay innocent on the ground until it became a moment of relief.
Coming Together with my family was my favourite moment, joy and happiness. Following our tradition we ate a spicy beef with fresh fish and vegetables on the side alongside great tasting pasta. We drank fresh camel milk that was extremely cold to cool everyone down. I remember at night, hours use to go past while I lay on the ground on my back watching the stars as I listen to music, dreaming of the future. The view was indescribable and a moment of peace and quiet.

Somalia is also known as the horn of Africa. The weather is bright and lovely. Most of the times, when I’m free, I would head out to the beach with some friends were thousands use to gather together and have fun. The ocean was shinny, warm, just the way I liked it. I never think twice but undress till am left standing with my swimming trunks and dive in the deep warm beast. 22 years of disaster and changes is visible in Somalia, people working together, building, houses, streets, roads and etc. 

Somalia can be the best place in the world and will be after this old fashioned behaviour changes. Hopefully people will acknowledge Somalia as a nation of beauty and not the monster. I can see so many great things happening. Through the changes, everyone is finally putting tribes (hopefully) and silly behaviour to the past and starting to work as one. Unity is the key which Somalis didn’t understand first.