1. Stop the Arrogance
However smart and confidence you may feel, note that someone else is taking this as arrogance. Sometimes it’s best to let others shines so do not make the mistake of thinking that you know everything about everything just because you had access to Google for the last 10 years. Some youths here carry 4 or 5 degrees and did this in a warzone. Just because you had a western education and speak with a good English/American accent does not make you the messiah Somalis have been waiting for.
2. Learn Af-Somali
This is crucial for your survival (in oral sense). People will look at you and judge you. Make sure your Af-Somali game is stepped up and ready to converse at any given time. You should already know that we are an oral nation so having some type of ammo (Not guns) is important. Kids as young as 8 would test you and so would Caasi (Bus) drivers. You must be able to reply as fast as possible without any hiccup.
3. ATM/Cash Machine? Forget all that Rubbish, Welcome to the land of EVC
Do not assume that just because the nation had been going through war people are not as dumb and stupid as you may think. The first ATM bank machine was recently just opened up. Do not come into town with your plastic card and hoping to do transaction through it. You would be looked at and laughed on. The EVC system is clearly in charge here. Get use to it.
4. Foreign Line is where you stand in the immigration department.
When you land in Mogadishu, the fresh smell of salt water hits you. Then as you are coming down the flight of stairs, you head into the immigration department. Here, there are 4 lanes separated into 2 different sections. The left section is the foreign section and the right sections are for the nationals. If you are carrying a different passport, note that you are a foreigner and must line up at that section. Yes, we all know you are a Somali, heck even the birds know you are a Somali but the immigration department rules do not. Please abide by the rules and come off that “This is my country”. Nobody will hear you or care.
5. Be prepared for changes.
Ok, you have been out of the country for over 20 years. Realise that things have changed and new actors are playing the game. Forget about “Xamar was like this or like that.” That is gone, out of the picture. New characters have emerged over the last 20 years and are now the movers and shakers of the city. Respect this.
6. A gun going off means make way for traffic.
When you hear a gun go off as you emerge traffic, keep calm and move aside. There is no gunfight going on, there is no sniper. This is done to make room. Understand this and you would be fine.
7. Have Somali Shilling ready at any moment
The Somali Shilling may be worthless to you but it would help you buy small things. 100,000Shilling Somali is enough which is roughly $5. It would seem like a huge chunk to you at first but this shilling can enable you to process transactions pretty fast and with the nation emerging from war, would be able to help you support those less fortunate who do not at most times carry mobile phones for the EVC system.
8. Process a Somali Driving License
Ok, so what you got an American driving license, this is Somalia. You must go to traffic control centre (locally named viish Traffic) and process your license (Somali is much preferred). Otherwise General Ali Gaab would not be happy and trust me; you do not want to see him pissed off.
If you follow these simple 8 rules, life would be convenient for you.
Other than that, Have a pleasant stay.
Mohamed Hassan (Dj)