Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Permission to party from the moral police

In Hargeisa, Somalis are not allowed to attend parties at houses occupied by foreigners!!! Apparently, few Somalis have been turned away from such parties, male and female. Foreigners by law have to employ special police personel to guard their residential and work places and these so called police seem to also be the moral police to keep Somalis from being "corrupted" by foreign parties. This despite the fact that there is a growing number of expatriate Somalis returning from Europe and North America to work or resettle back. Some don't even speak Somali well and don't identify with the culture that strongly.

I am one such Somali, holding a foreign passport, working for an NGO and living in Hargeisa. I share house with 6 colleagues from: Kenya, Uganda, USA, Denmark and Zimbabwe. I also have few expatriate Somali friends and I am organising my first party at the house. My Somali friends told me not to organise the party at the house coz of the embarrassment of being turned away from house parties. I spoke to the fake police guards last night informing them of my party plans and they said there won't be a problem letting my Somali friends in (like I am asking for an effing permission). Then this morning I found out they have been replaced with new ones, I don't think there is a conspiracy but better get this little issue straightened. So I had a meeting today with the area manager and head of security. The area manager, an Australian woman, doesn't understand why Somalis won't let other Somalis into parties and assured me it is not an organisational policy to turn any one away coz of their nationality. Head of security, a Somali man, is going to speak to the fake police to mind their business and not turn anyone away. I am so curious to see what happens tomorrow night, I am wearing my skinny jeans and kicking boots, just in case.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A note from Sah Koshin on her experience flying with Jubba Airways

I am going to sue Jubba Airways for making 11 people sit on the floor of the plane from Galkayo-Hargeisa 16/09/11, 3 of whom were children, one baby, 2 female. Those who managed to secure seats discovered that there were no seat belts/or dilapidated seats had makeshift fishing rods as seatbelts, no water to drink, no ventilation at all and children suffocated. The toilet was locked and out of order. The 10 or so Russian pilots in the cabin were all wearing sandals and half naked and were smoking in the cabin. Upon landing we all saw them sharing the fares the poor 11 people had paid for their flights!!

The goat update: Day 3 in Hargeisa

I have now met all my former virtual friends, Shugri, Sharmarke, Zahra and finally last night, Sah Koshin! I am so encouraged with what I saw last night. In one room, there were Somalis from Puntland, Somaliland, Djibouti, Ogaden and Jigjiga in Ethiopia, Mogadishu, Merka, and even members of the Transitional National Government. And guess what? There were no gunshots, insults or even flying chairs!!

The icing on the cake, Hadraawi, the recited his poem, shame there was no subtitle.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New life in Hargeisa!

Just last month, living in Hargeisa never crossed my mind, and certainly not by September! I arrived yesterday, 17th, but I think it will take time for this new reality to sink in.

A month ago, I was in Johannesburg dreaming about working in Mogadishu and in talks with the Ministry of International Cooperation. They didn’t get back to me in time with a concrete offer so I decided to take another offer with an NGO, for a post that is actually more suited to my area of work and interest.

Fast developments and sudden change of direction has become normal since I packed up my life in London and showed up in Mozambique with no plans, 4 years ago. I love this unpredictable life and being a nomad again. Downside is the inability to plan anything beyond a month!
What makes this move interesting for me is that it will challenge my views on the separation of Somaliland from Somalia. When I first learnt about the proposed separation in London and heard the reasoning, I was not sold at all and I am still a sceptic. Not because I am a supporter of a "greater Somalia", I was born in Kenya and feel more East African than Somali, after all. But because I felt a level of aggressive and forced selling of the idea. I don't know of anyone who likes to be forced to believe and I felt maybe Somaliland advocates in London have unintentionally done more damage to their cause by chasing people away with that aggressive attitude.

I am here now, with an opportunity to learn from people on the ground and I am keen to hear what they have to say. My first impression tho, is that people here, like Puntland and the rest of Somalia, just wanna get on with their lives.

I am used to borders, born in Kenya, grew up between Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda. Went to school in China, lived most of my life in the UK, and a bit in Mozambique and South Africa. Borders don't mean much to me but it seems in Somaliland, it is everything. Maybe people here know something I don't know, I am all ears.