Monday, 18 November 2013

“Us versus Them” Mentality


With a flourish of Diaspora coming back to Somalia, it brought assurance and hope. This meant that individuals and families had sensed that we were in progress. I remember when schools shut for summer years back, we would book flights to Canada or other parts in the Middle East where we had families stationed. But this summer was unique and different. This was because Toronto or Cleveland was not the destination for holidays anymore but rather Somalia.

Youths and parents had all agreed upon each other that visiting Mogadishu was the only goal. I remember this past June, seeing youths from abroad all over the city. You can pick them up from a crowd easily because of the dress code, style or walk. With Diasporas’ keen to return, this has also caused a stir amongst locals.

With media outlets expanding across the nation, some took full advantage of this to start a smear campaign against those coming from abroad. Whether it’s out of envy or competition, it has gotten to a point where gossip and propaganda started to emerge.

One recent article I had read weeks back from a Somali news outlet stated that locals were moving seats when Diasporas’ had came in for coffees. This was due to “having fear that those from the Diaspora would commit suicide bombs.” Are you kidding? I have never laughed at utter nonsense since the days of MPs fighting out in parliament in Nairobi.

There’s a campaign at the moment to demonize the Diaspora community and it’s sad really. A community, which funded almost $1 billion every year, through remittance programs, is now turned against.

Ridiculously unnecessary cheap shots will only be coming more. I took an caasi (bus) couple of days back and had no cash so wanted to send through EVC (mobile phone banking) and had the driver state “you Diasporas love to show off with EVC”. How do you reply? When almost 4 others before me paid through the same system and where locals?

We are heading into a dangerous route, being driven by individuals who lack self belief and caused them to feel totally dis-moral by fellow Somalis arriving back. This has lead to some locals to believe an ideology of “us versus them” mentality.

Of course there are those Diaspora individuals with arrogance walking around town. But one person does not count for the rest. Nobody believes that all locals are war minded, gun-toting, clan mentality fighters, so why assume all those coming from abroad are full of each other?

But not all of Mogadishu is like this. You get a lot of groups who are welcoming and love hearing stories from abroad. Family members, community members, co-workers, friends and whatnot.

We are all Somalis so let’s work together and share our knowledge in order to seek this goal we all crave for, peace.

Mohamed Hassan (Dj)

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