Monday, December 10, 2012


“A'uthu billahi minashaitani rajim”

I wonder what I should cook today to go with the chicken…Anything other than pasta or rice.

“Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim”

He is always expecting me to make him a nice meal while he doesn’t even pay the bills on time

“Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-'Aalamin”

This house is too noisy, can’t even hear my own thoughts


Amina is almost 10, I just wish I could find someone else to explain to her about ‘period’ and how to manage it.

“Maaliki Yawmid-Diin”

And these kids, they have to start helping out at home, am done slaving for ungrateful lot

“Iyyaaka na'-budu wa 'iyyaaka nasta-'iin”

It is Ayaan’s wedding tomorrow and I don’t have a new dirac, I have to borrow one from Asli. I wonder how things have developed with that loser husband of hers.


Ouch, that hurts. Am getting too fat and old to bend! Maybe I shud look into this new yoga thing everyone is going on about. But I don’t have trousers that would fit.

“Siraatal-lathiina 'an-'amta 'alayhim”

I hope this Hassan Gurguurte guy brings real change and stability so we can soon go back home, one more winter and I will lose it.

“Gayril-magzuubi 'alayhim”

She came in late last night, that is the 3rd time this week! I have to have a word with her. She will bring shame on the family name if the neighbours learn she came back home at 8pm.

“Wa laz-zaaalliin

Perfect, just in time to take the chicken out of the oven before I burn it again.


Controlling a monkey brain is bad enough, now try praying in a language you don’t understand…5 times a day! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Letter from Mogadishu

On the 5th of September, 2012, I packed up my bags and moved back to Mogadishu! I know, sounds mad to choose to live in a city known as the “most dangerous city in the world” when I have options. But you see, I am absolutely tired of visas, immigration offices, work permits, deportation threats, sneaking out of countries coz my visa expired, and learning new languages. I will rather dust off my Somali than improve my Portuguese or Swahili, I figured.
Secondly, if Somalis in the Diaspora, who are known as “fadhi ku dirir”, or “armchair activists”, and I was one of them for years, don’t move back to Somalia, we will have crazies, extremists, former government-hand-out-dependents, anyone who couldn’t find a job in the West, run this beautiful country to the ground. We literally have to vote with our feet and come back in droves to reclaim Somalia.
This is my second time ‘moving back home’ but this time I wasn’t running away from London’s depressing gray sky. I packed up my bags in London in 2004 and said “I am going back home”, showed up in Mogadishu and 4 months later, I was back in London, with the same “I am going back home” slogan! For some odd reasons, I have always felt a pull to this city even though I don’t have a lot of positive memories from when I lived here years ago. That decision was speeded up when I worked on the 2012 Presidential campaign for a former boss and good friend. I was supposed to help him only for a week in the first week of August, but I ended up staying for the whole campaign period. Looking back, I think it was a blessing in disguise to have stayed, at the cost of getting into a difficult situation with my then bosses at the NGO I was working for.
I have landed at the deep end of Somali politics and at a crossroads for this country’s bloody history of the past 22 years. I have met few of the presidential candidates, so many of the MPs (who were electing the President), traditional elders, women, youth, and lots of whealer dealers. The month and half of the campaign taught me more about the state of Somali politics than an MSc in politics did! It was raw politics, so much clan dealings and negotiations that in the end, didn’t get the candidate I was campaigning for elected despite so many promises and optimism! I was amazed by the sheer lies of the many MPs who spent a lot of time with him and promised they would vote for him. In the end, only 8 gave him their votes compared to nearly 40 of what we thought were solid voters for our camp for the first round (there were 3 rounds)! This will take time to digest and learn from, because there might be good reasons for this kind of brave lies and promises which I can’t understand at the moment.
Despite the loss in our camp, we have gained a lot from this election. My first support was for the candidate I was working for to win but when he lost, I was so glad to see a fresh newcomer defeating the overly confident, brutal and loaded former President lose! I chose not to be at the election venue that day, thank goodness! But I was glued to the TV and on social media watching the reactions of Somalis in the Diaspora. It was an emotional day and there was so much buzz on social media that Somalia became a trending topic on Twitter! During the day, I went for a drive, to get away from the tension of everyone gathering around the TV to watch the process. I knew the real election would be delayed so I went to the beach with some friends and driving thorough Mogadishu was like a ghost town! OK, so the image most people have of Mogadishu is that it is a ghost town with nutcase suicide bombers, which is not all accurate. Part of the city is very busy and you won’t even feel you are in an unstable city, with lots of traffic, noisy traders, police every corner. The other part, lives up to the reputation. Ghostly, ruined buildings, empty of its former residents and just a stark reminder of how far this civil war has gone.  
I got back in time for the elections and it was one of the most stressful experiences as emotions ran high both on TV and on social media. Our candidate sadly lost on the first round but the battle to remove the incumbent President was more agonizing and longer process. At the first round, he had the most votes, 64 out of 220 votes and 23 candidates! I thought that was it, it was over for Somalia’s chance to turn a new page. I kept calling a friend inside the election venue who usually has a good idea of how things work in Somali politics. He reassured me that since the second runner up has only 4 votes less, it is over for the President! I turned to social media to see if anyone agreed, but no, the mood was one of defeat.
You could hear the noisy shock of the nearly 2,000 people crammed in the election venue, thorough the live TV coverage. The minute the results were announced, almost everyone, apart from the President, were on their feet. Presumably, those with the lowest votes just got annoyed and left to evaluate the financial damage and others had to reshuffle their allegiance and do last minute campaign to either boost the President’s votes or make sure they give all their support to the runner up. The first round was supposed to produce 4 candidates with the most votes among the 23, second round was supposed to eliminate 2 of the 4 and last round to produce a President. However, the first round produced such an unexpected and imbalanced numbers that it upset the neat plan, with 64 for the incumbent President, 60 for a totally fresh face, Hassan Sheikh, 37 for the incumbent Prime Minister and 20 votes for a businessman newcomer!
­To make the situation even more tense, and maybe because they realized they had no chance and now the real fight was to block the incumbent President from staying in office, both 3rd and 4th runner ups decided to throw in their towels! They both also gave short speeches calling for MPs to support ‘change for Somalia’, which we all understood to mean vote the new guy in.
Few hours later the result was announced, after a lot of behind the scene last minute desperate moves by both sides, incumbent President apparently giving cash out to MPs to buy their votes, from the tinted-windowed black landcruiser parked in the courtyard of the election venue. There are also reports for the Mogadishu mayor lobbying for him by asking the candidates with the least votes to give the President their support! The mayor is supposed to stay out of this, or at least not be so blatant about it, it shows the over-confidence of all those in his camp about his re-election!
The second round counting was such a surprise I couldn’t believe it, I don’t think anyone could. The count was like, for every 20 votes, 3 went to the President and the rest to this totally fresh new face to politics! If there was a written profile of the new guy online, google search would have probably crashed that evening! Everyone was on social media and on the phone asking, who the hell is this guy? How did he pay (no other way can he defeat Shariif, the deep pocketed) to get these many votes? The answer is probably, a lot of Arab money and he was lucky enough to be in a place where he was competing against a guy who symbolized what Somalis are trying to bury and leave behind, a never ending transitional government and a deeply corrupt one at that. Talk about being at the right place at the right time, with a bit of work of course, to get 60 votes in the first place, takes a lot.
This was a massive achievement. Somalia has been under a limbo “transitional government” since 2006 and we needed to move on to a more permanent and stable government.
Apart from the hope raised by these changes, the people I have met during the campaign, especially younger Somalis with a vision of future Somalia I could relate to, has ignited a fire in me to want to return and contribute somehow. This is a place I dreamt of returning and living peacefully, under a functioning government. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I just had to make the move and think later, about how to survive in a city where you need a bodyguard to move around. Apart from the fact that it is very expensive, it is also not how I ever imagined living. And how do you make a decent living in Mogadishu if you want to stay away from politics and don’t have money for business? Too many questions and I would have easily backed out, the solution was in dive first and think later, as usual.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Donkeys, the last ethnic minority in Mogadishu.

I get inspiration and energy from Mogadishu markets. They are so alive with activity, noisy traders, heavy traffic, teaboys hassling. For the time you are there, it is like a time machine, you will totally forget you are in a city that hasn’t fully returned to normality. I love the traders optimism, I suppose they have no choice. People have to make a living. But still, they could trade in a low-key market with less chance of suicide bombers hiding in the massive and disorientated crowd. Majority of the traders show up in their thousands very early in the morning, 6 days a week, hoping to make enough to cover their basic needs. Some tho, make more in a month than most of us with useless university degrees make in a lifetime! It is a fascinating place to get a glimpse of a resilient free market that has survived 22 years of civil war, countless governments, warlords and extremist groups. A reminder that all this nation needs is an effective but minimal government to facilitate business and it will fly.

Walking through the market, a friend explained that when I Al-Shabaab controlled the city, they cleaned up the chaotic streets of the market and created a working system. They have ordered all the shop owners who used to ‘rent out’ the space outside their shops to petty traders to stop renting out an illegal space that is supposed to be a public street. They ordered the removal of all the shacks blocking the streets and now you can comfortably drive or walk thorough Bakara market.

People are selling everything you can imagine, from construction material, cheap made-in-China nylon clothes unsuitable for the Mogadishu heat, to university degrees! Yup, you can have a degree from “Oxford University” conveniently made in Bakara for few dollars. No need to pay a fortune and spend years stressing in the real Oxford Uni. I passed up the opportunity today coz I couldn’t think of a subject I would like to have an Masters degree on. I will think hard and go back to get me a home-made MA in minutes.
I spent the last month and a half in a Presidential campaign, meeting crooks, so called elders, wannabe ‘Ministers’ with absolutely no clue how government is run. It was an eye-opening experience but also depressing to get a glimpse of our future misleaders. A day spent in Bakara market gave me hope that we are not doomed. With this level of hyper active entrepreneurship, surely, we can’t totally go wrong? At least the ratio of honest hard working folks to the get-rich-fast from politics fat men gives me a bit of hope.

The most curious thing about Mogadishu markets is the visible presence of female traders at every level! How can we have a culture where women are equal, if not more dominant in trade, to men in business but totally invisible in politics?! Some of these women must be wealthy and influential, how come they are not trying to push for their agenda in politics and support women candidates or political organisations? I have so many questions and I can’t wait to meet women traders to ask them directly.
Of course, not everything I have seen in Bakara was good. I find it baffling that some male traders are rude, call you names, shout at you and expect you to buy something from them! WTF moment, lots of moments, actually. Men shouted at me “naa hooy, naa hooy, kaaley oo wax naga gado!”, which loosely translates to “hey you, hey you, come and buy something from us!”. In Somali it sounds a lot more aggressive. What do u say to that? “Mofo, thanks, but no thanks?” Lol. You will def scream "Dayuusbaro" and probably get shot. You better ignore them and walk on.
The other totally depressing thing you see everywhere in the market is the mistreatment of donkeys! They are overloaded, beaten, harassed, and looking malnourished. These animals must be the ultimate slaves for humans, how horrible for them. I am told since there is no enough food and they won’t work properly if they are not fed well, they are given drugs! Mixture of qaat leftovers and pills!! No wonder they look so skinny and permanently hangover, poor things! I won’t be surprised if one day these 4th class slave citizens of Mogadishu go on rampage and take over the city. That day, I will arm them and help them find an escape root, eff this inhumane treatment. If you ever think you were born in the wrong clan and get treated like shit, think of these guys. They don’t even have a clan elder to speak on their behalf.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Characters I met in Mogadishu during the election

The pretentious academic who demands an award for having done a BA! The former activist and current mayor with serious corruption allegations. The self-appointed campaigner/hustler who only shows up to ask for expenses reimbursed. The pissed off warlord denied an MP seat who wants to shoot the whole vetting committee. The silently strong female MP vetting committee member determined to do her job at any cost. The red-bearded, softly spoken elderly man on a mission to protect the status quo. The irritated woman blocked by her sub-clan 'traditional elders' from MP nomination. The bodyguard asleep in the day, awake at night chewing khat but somehow knows everything that happened while he was asleep. The cook exhausted from feeding an army of campaigners, politicians, wanderers. The beautiful mysterious woman always sharply dressed, you can smell her perfume from a mile at every meeting but says nothing. The handsome young man, leader of university students and youth, well spoken and always in the same black suit and blue shirt. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goat bra and a case of mistaken identity

Story goes that in a small town in south Somalia (no GPS coordinates provided), paranoid American soldiers (don't ask what they were doing in the middle of a small Somali town, I can understand the paranoia, tho), came across a goat in a bra, similar to the one bellow.  

They have heard stories of Al-messed-up-Shabaab planting bombs in goat bras and sending them to compounds to blow up some shit. These Americans weren’t gonna take a chance, so they blew  up the poor goat’s brains before it exploded. However, upon a closer examination of the fancy looking pink bra, they realized it was a case of a mistaken identity. This was not an Al-Shabaab employed goat and was probably just heading to the mosque for Friday prayers, poor thing.

According to Somali customary law, you kill a living thing you have to pay a price. Unless you are a dog, in which case, no clan member can claim a price on your worthless little life. An elderly lady claimed the goat was hers and that the Americans should pay for having killed an innocent goat. The price normally depends on animal’s age, size and if it is a female, you pay more coz u didn’t just take a goat but also some fresh milk for breakfast. The only time in Somalia where females are worth more than males, welcome to goatcountry.

There are goats everywhere and most roam the streets freely but hit a random one and the owner magically appears with a story of how talented that goat was and why you should pay for a maximum penalty: it spoke 3 languages, had a PhD in conflict resolution, produced medicinal milk that cured aids, shat gold and ran 3 London marathons for charity. That was not an ordinary goat, goddamn it.

In the case of the tragic mistaken identity involving the Americans, the elderly lady was honest and didn’t claim her goat had any of the supergoat qualities. She just told the paranoid killers with automatic guns that they should pay, without specifying the amount. The Americans didn’t want to add complication to the ugly dead-goat-scene so they quickly paid her 200USD. The average goat price is around 25USD, easiest 175USD profit ever made! The owner was thrilled and instantly forgot about her dead goat. So thrilled in fact, she asked the goat murderers if they could kill the remaining 60 of her goats and pay 200USD each!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senseless and violent death to one of the kindest young man I know!

Mohamed Said Maweel Duale, early 20s, one of the nicest young men I have met in Hargeisa, was violently killed yesterday!!

 Always smiling, very polite and helpful. I met him when I took up my current job and had to travel to El-Afweyn to implement an SMS feedback system. We took 2 cars and he was driving the second car with some security people. We drove for 2 days, spending the night in Burao.

Whenever we took a break from driving, he would come over to our car, chat with us, joke and make us laugh. When we got to El-Afweyn, he would spend the evenings with us at the compound, even tho his family is from there and he could have left after work. He would stay till late, always laughing and joking. He was an easy and pleasant person to hangout with. He was a young good soul and a hardworking. He started working as a freelance driver for NGOS since his late teens, bright and focused beyond his years. Unlike most people I met during the trip, he never interfered in my personal business or asked what clan I was. Instead, he gave me his personal mobile number, said he is native of the city and to call him if I needed anything.

Mohamed was working in the Ainabo district office of the DRC. At 5pm yesterday, he was asked to drive to a place not far from the office to help another colleague whose car got stuck. About 25km outside Ainabo, a place called Goosoweyne, where the roads to El-Afweyn, Ainabo and Burao meet, he was ambushed by pro-Khatumo state militias. We don’t know more details beyond the fact that he was violently killed, along with a friend he was driving with, his car and personal belonging taken by the militias. When staff at the Ainabo office got worried because he was late, they called his phone. To their shock, the militias picked it up and told them they have killed Mohamed and his friend and said where they dumped their bodies!!!

This looks like a random and horrible crime against 2 innocent, kind and very young men, all because of political division between Somaliland and Khatumo state. Doesn’t make sense and am heartbroken for him, his friend and their families.

To the supporters of Khatumo state, I don’t want to talk to you all as criminals, you are not. I just want you to know about Mohamed and his friend, the most peaceful person I have met here and won’t harm a fly. He was did not represent Somaliland. These were young Somali boys killed by other young Somali boys and you might unknowingly be funding or supporting the violence from the safety of your homes in the Diaspora. I promise to find you Mohamed’s photo and post it here, you have to know about him, he was a good soul.

I am not writing this to incite hatred or violence against Khatumo State supporters or add to the already dangerous tension between Khatumo State and Somaliland. I am writing because this regional violence has finally claimed someone I know, liked, and respected. And I know he is not the first or the last victim. Claim your rights to political independence or separation but what rights can you claim if you are taking innocent lives in the name of a struggle for freedom? This applies not only to Khatumo State, but to Somaliland, Puntland and rest of Somalia.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Without fair and transparent recruitment system, poverty is here to stay.

A colleague walked into office this morning and asked if I could help him be part of an interview panel for Management Information System's assistant position. I really didn't have time and don't particularly like interviewing. He is a nice guy so I felt bad to say no and went along. 

There were 4 candidates and the first one was so bad, I instantly regretted my decision. Shud have told him I was too busy and couldn't help, lol. The poor candidate was clueless and I don't know how he even got shortlisted to 4 out of 87 applicants! 2nd candidate walked in confidently, better. He was much better but he struggled to understand the questions in English, we had to repeat few times. When he got the question right, he gave very good answers. I thought maybe he was nervous. 

Candidate 3 was a female. I was excited she made it to the shortlist and looked forward to meet her. She walked in painfully shy and inaudibly greeted us. I thought, shit! Shy like that she might not make it to the end of the short interview without bolting out of the door. But she totally surprised me! She stayed very calm, focused and answered the questions with confidence and precision. I was like, damn! She knew her stuff, studied ICT at Hargeisa University (had no idea they had an ICT department, am going to visit), and then worked for a local NGO as their website manager. 

By the time the 4th candidate showed up, I was already sold and found it challenging to focus. I had to work hard to be fair to him and to make sure if he was better, not to miss out. He was actually good. Dressed sharp, spoke well, and gave good answers, but not a competition to the previous candidate.

At the end of each interview, the candidate is asked routine questions like when they can start, if they were selected for the job, and what was their salary expectation. To my amusement, all the male candidates, who performed worst than the girl, asked for a lot higher than she had! She was shy and asked few hundred USD lower than her pay grade! I found this very interesting and maybe a reflection of women's either low self-esteem or expectations. 

As I write this, my colleague tells me the girl got the job! Am super excited for her and even tho this is a short contract, I hope she goes as far as I think she can. 

I am excited about her win because I am constantly meeting incompetent Somalis pushed into jobs they can't perform thru clan/family or other connections. It is rare to find fair job selection process where people can compete openly and fairly and where the right candidate, despite their clan, gender, or political alliance, can make it thru the selection criteria based solely on their performance. Without a transparent, fair and open recruitment system, we are going to have key government and private sector positions filled with incompetent but well connected people who are obstacle to not only our basic development but this regions massive potential. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From camels to weird spaceship travel, Somalis experience a culture shock.

Turns out it is not a one off incident but more common than I would like to admit. I am recognising the patterns. It starts with a clumsy security check procedure with a group of disorientated Somali travelers unable to follow basic instructions. The graceful elderly man with henna-red beard and his young male companion look composed till they had to go through the scanner and soon as they hear the beeb sound, indicating they have something metallic on them, they totally lose their cool and hurriedly remove items from their pockets, remove their shoes and belts and throw them at the table. I watch in a mixture of pity and amusement. The young man leaves the elderly man looking helpless and fends for himself. I was surprised by this as it is contrary to ‘Somali culture’, that loaded word that no one knows what it means anymore, for a more able-bodied to leave an elderly man behind.

I patiently wait for this chaotic scene to pass, go through the security check and proceed to check in. I am becoming familiar with the Somali nomadic traveler’s scenario. It is like people uprooted from their camel-travel planet and implanted in a concrete jungle with strange culture of filling forms, walking through scanners and boarding in an alien spaceship. Most of the Somali travelers I encounter at airports, especially between Kenya and Somalia, seem to be totally confused about air traveling and I am baffled by how majority of these people manage to own a passport, afford a ticket and figure out how to get to the airport, in the first place!

The check-in desk was closed so I decided to take advantage of the time and fill in the departure card. Soon as I arrived at the desk to pick up the card, I was approached by about 6 Somalis, all apart from one are deportees! They have never gone through an airport and don’t read or write. I have no choice but to fill the forms for them. First in line is this young woman who seems either super stressed or high on khat. She is unable to stand still, fidgeting with her phone and spoke to me in a broken English. I reply in Somali and she is surprised. It must be my very short hair and the way I am dressing. I fill her form, ask few questions, like why does she have a brand new Somali passport issued in Nairobi with no Kenyan visa? I tell her she better think of an answer before the immigration officer asks. The woman is so disorientated I am wondering if she has been yanked out of her hiding place this morning by immigration officers for deportation. I complete the form and ask her to sign. She refuses! She holds on to the form and looks at it seriously like I am asking her to sign her life away. A young man behind her urges her to sign and tells her that there are others in line waiting to be helped. She asks me what exactly she should sign as! I tell her to replicate the signature on her passport. Next was the elderly henna-beard man from the security check. He is polite and says he needs help filling the form because he can’t see well.  To my surprise, he has an American passport and he is dressed well. Am thinking, couldn’t he afford glasses and suspected he was also illiterate. I complete his form and he asks me to kindly also help the young man traveling with him. The young man hands me a blue paper with deportation orders issued by the Somali ‘embassy’ in Nairobi. I ask him for a passport or travel document to fill the departure card. The elderly man answers that he doesn’t have a passport and only has that “Go home”, blue letter. It was the same for the other 4 people waiting to be helped. They are being deported to Somalia and they are destined for Galkayo. I complete filling their cards, they say their thank yous and head for the immigration departure desk.

When I come back from checking-in my bags I find the disorientated young woman at the immigration being refused exit! She asks me to help her translate to the immigration officer why she has a blank new passport and how she got to Kenya in the first place. As I walk to the desk, another immigration officer in the next booth shouts out at me and asks where I am going. I politely tell her I am trying to help someone with translation but she doesn’t listen and repeated her question and asked why I am joining a full queue when she can help. I am thinking this is effing annoying and not what I want to deal with at 4am. She let’s me go soon as she realizes I can explain myself. In contrast, the officer I am translating for is very calm and polite. He must see this often enough to write a book about.  He asks reasonable questions and she provides either untrue or confused answers, which basically boiled down to her having entered the country illegally. I translate literally and in the middle of this interrogation, she kept answering her phone and spoke to some concerned family members. Both I and the officer got annoyed and I told her in Somali that she is acting both rude and suspicious and to put her phone away if she wants help. The officer asked who she is speaking to on the phone and why is her phone ringing non-stop. I then had to explain to him that she is harmless, just totally confused and to please just let her go home. Thank goodness he agrees. I wanted that young woman back to a place where she knows what the hell is going on. I don’t get it, do people like her have a family or friends to tell her to stay put where she is comfortable and safe. I am guessing she had plans to make it to Europe or North America. There is a side of me that thinks, who the hell am I to prevent her from realising her dream, if she has some beyond landing in a frozenland with gold pavements. It is a depressing situation to witness but am glad at least she boarded the flight and heading back home.

While we were in the middle of this confusion, I noticed few other side events. Like how the Sudanese man with the UN passport who looks like Somali got caught up in this and the rude female immigration officer who shouted at me started interrogating him also, lol. You are doomed if you look like a Somali at Jomo Kenyatta airport, you get some annoyed officers to take out their frustration out on you and honestly, I am slowly starting to empathise with Kenyan immigration officers. I found some of these scenes annoying even as a fellow Somali. I was losing my patience with some of the travelers, everyone needs help at every stage, it seemed. Start the change now and invest in basic literacy class. If you want travel in search of better opportunities and quality of life, by all means go ahead and do it. But for heaven’s sakes, teach yourself to read and write so you can fill your own forms at airports. You will also be able to read documents determining your life.  I want to scream about this but it is 4am and I am not fully awake to be preaching.

What I will do is write to the Somali government, if I can find the right department or person. Minister of Foreign Affairs, maybe? This is the responsibility of the Somali government and I think they should employ someone at all major Kenyan airports, especially in Wajir and Nairobi, to provide information, support and advocacy for Somali travelers. There are flights from Nairobi to all the major Somali cities at least 3 times a week and I can’t imagine how many people are stranded, end up in the wrong cities or denied entry/exit due to language and communication barriers.  

3 weeks prior, I arrived from Mogadishu to find 4 women and an elderly man in desperate need and one of the women was holding a brand new Kenyan passport but she didn’t speak a word of Swahili and was in the visa queue until I noticed her passport and asked why she is trying to get a visa for her own country. She laughed shyly and said it is her first time traveling. All of them couldn’t read or write and one of the ladies was in Nairobi to buy stuff for her business back in Mogadishu! Clearly, Somalia needs a massive literacy and numeracy campaign. How are people to make an informed decision if they are struggling with the basics? It is worrying.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Girls and a Podcast

Idil (from the brilliant blog and I decided to flirt with other forms of social media, and start a podcast. The inspiration behind this stems from our conversations as two politically active Somali women who find most of the conversations around African issues too limiting, too stuffy, and not uncomfortable enough. The aim of this podcast is to deconstruct some of the discourse surrounding politricks, Why Europe ought to be nicer to coloured folks, identity politics, how to find the G-Spot, Niggas in Paris, Africa’s place in the new global order, gender identity, and other similar sexy topics in a radio format, well sorta. There are many blogs in the African blogosphere, but very little vlogs/podcasts, and we’re both fascinated by this medium. So here’s our first session, which is just an introduction to the purpose/aim of this project, and its implications. Give it a listen, and feel free to challenge/engage/troll us. Warning: annoying accents found here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Time Somalis recognised and appreciated AMISOM's work in Somalia.

An exchange on twitter regarding AMISOM's presence in Mogadishu rubbed me the wrong way and I am amazed at the animosity towards these soldiers serving the interest of Somalia and Somalis at such a high price. They put their lives at risk and fight wars most Somalis, especially those in the Diaspora, are not willing to fight. They have massively contributed to the growing peace and stability in Mogadishu and most of them serve for a stretch of 6 months before they can go back to their families and take a break. You tell me how many Somalis in their comfortable Western countries will sacrifice their comforts to fight Al-Shabaab in a country where the AMISOM are not only outnumbered but where they can't even tell the difference between a civilian and a combatant, fighting ghostly figures hiding in the population.

Yes most of the soldiers are motivated by money and they get paid well for their sacrifices but they could have chosen to go to Iraq or Afghanistan or another messed up country in need of peacekeepers, there is no particular reason those individuals chose Somalia. 

I think these soldiers are doing a great job and my recent trip to Mogadishu has left me really impressed with what they have achieved, working with the TFG. Mogadishu was a no-go city for many years and last time I was there 6 years ago, I couldn't have walked freely in the city without armed guards but this time, I was walking around Waaberi, Wadajir and Xamar Weyne with no security at all! If it was not for AMISOM's presence in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab would have seriously threatened TFG's weak and disorganised army. Mogadishu is slowly coming back to life and everywhere you drive you will find construction and buildings being rehabilitated, it is incredible that the outside world isn't witnessing this almost miraculous transformation, for a city written off as hopeless. 

Somalis need to recognise and support the efforts of the AMISOM and the great work they are doing in bringing back peace and stability to Mogadishu. These soldiers are cleaning up the mess we have created at a great risk to their lives and they live harsh and isolated lives in their Mogadishu baraks. Like a lot of other Somalis, I also would hate to do this job but am grateful to them for their work and for the countries who have and are still sending young men to help Somalia bring this endless war to a stop, which has has claimed so many lives and created so much misery.

Scratch break

Forget 'smoke break', in Mogadish you will need a serious 'scratch break' every 20 minutes. At least that is what I needed at that hotel with no AC in the lounge area. I would keep the AC in my room running at 16 degrees so when I can't take it anymore, I can run to my room, take off that horrid cover (personal prison), and scratch myself till my skin is burning! I don't remember Mogadishu being this hot and humid, but my memory isn't reliable. 

I found the humidity a bigger threat to my security and a potential spoiler of my plans to make Nairobi-Mogadishu a base one day. Luckily, am told it only gets this hot + humid in March and April, phew! Otherwise, I would have had to buy myself either a special body scratcher or an AC I could wear. 

Maybe Al-Shabaab had a point when they banned the bra, imagine the guy who took the time to think thru this one. I hate bras in general but when it is hot and humid, it is inhumane to make women wear bras and that Godforsaken nylon slip. And to think most of the day traders in the markets under that heat are bra-wearing human beings with nylon slips! I am surprised they are sane and look after husbands and children, respect.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Longest flight from Mogadishu to Nairobi

I reluctantly left Mogadishu this morning after a short week's visit. On the other hand, I was really glad to take a breather from the relentless heat and humidity, I have never sweated that much.

I got to the airport with just the driver, at 8am, and found myself in a bizarre fight with one of the ladies at the AMISOM security check point. I walked into the room and found 3 ladies busy with other passengers so I waited till the Ugandan officer was free, the other 2 were Somali. I found them all to be rude and have an attitude issue but kept my mouth shut. Then the Ugandan lady only searched one of my bags and walked out! I stood there to see what would happen and then one of the Somali ladies, while busy sending an SMS, made a weird remark: "She is too proud to be searched by a Somali so let her wait for the Ugandan lady to come back", referring to me! I was like, WTF woman, it is too early in the morning to pick a fight so let's just get on with it. I told her I had no reason to be too proud and if she doesn't mind to plz search by bags as I am already late for my flight. She gets more aggressive and gets up to give me an aggressive lecture about the bad attitude 'Somali Diasporas' have when they 'show up' in Mogadishu...Err! I then lose my cool and tell her to go get laid so she will be a nicer person. That didn't help, she just got madder so I had to walk out and speak to her supervisor, a calm Ugandan soldier. He must have found the whole thing too weird, having to mediate between 2 Somali women shouting at each other in Somali, not a graceful sight. 

I finally get the eff out of that place and in to the literally melting airport. Visa's are charged at 50USD and exit tax at a hefty 40USD and yet the small immigration hall doesn't have AC and the 2 toilets are filthy you would easily hold it till you get to Nairobi! Where is the money going? The airport is constantly busy with at least 2 flights 3 times a week, how come the place looks like an IDP camp?

We leave for Nairobi almost at 11, don't count on public information or an apology if your flight is late, you just have to sit there and marinate in your sweat. Flight to Wajir (the mandatory stop for any flight leaving Somalia/land for security reasons) took a short 45 minutes. We get ushered like cows into the immigration office with strict security checks, all the bags are loaded off the plane to be screened as Mogadishu still does not have screening machines. I find an elderly Somali man who has never traveled outside Somalia and doesn't speak English. He seemed weak and limped, when I asked what is wrong with his leg, he showed me a big bandage covering most of his leg to stop the stuff coming out of his swelled skin. He was going to Nairobi for treatment and his son was waiting for him there. I filled the visa form for him and translated when needed, he was so calm and patient and a gentle soul. I decided to hangout with him, maybe he can rub a bit of his gentleness on my badly wired mood this morning. 

45 minutes later we board the plane and head for Nairobi. You would think 2 screenings in Nairobi and 1 in Wajir would be enough, no. We are made to go thorough security check all over again in Nairobi. This time they have to meticulously check each name and passport photo against list of passengers given by the airline. There are 2 immigration officers, a police officer and the captain checking. We landed at exactly 2pm and by the time they were done it was 3:20! The taxi driver outside called few times but I tell him there is nothing I can do and to please wait. We get out of that hell place and I am thinking, finally, we can just walk thorough immigration since we have visas from Wajir. Turns out few people, including the elderly man with leg injury don't have visas and I will have to fill the forms all over again and wait with him till he gets the visa! So, we start the process again and when he gets his visa, it is 4pm. I am growing inpatient by the second but this sick elderly man who has never traveled and relying on strangers to help is super patient and keeps looking up from his airport wheelchair every now and then with a patient and genuine smile! How the hell does he do it? I want to shout insult at the immigration officers for putting us thorough all these stupid screenings as if we are all criminals, fucking hell. But I breath in and out and keep going.

We had another VIP passenger today, the minister of defense and 5 of his entourage, am told. They sat in first class, of course, and they were always the first to board and to alight. They didn't have to deal with any of this mess, they practically walked thorough Nairobi immigration barely checked. How privileged to be zooming in and out of airports with ease and leaving behind elderly and women with children and never complaining to authorities about how flights from Somalia are overly screened. Not even a consideration to allow the sick, elderly and those with young kids to  go thorough first. Instead, the fit and healthy minister with his bulldozers go first.

The elderly man and myself are the last to leave and collect our bags and find his sons outside. Then I realise, in the rush, I had left my ipod and headphones in one of the screening points, shit. I rush back and ask airport security. They are kind enough to send someone and they said it was found but to go to the airline office outside to collect it. I find my taxi driver, who waited for 2 hours exactly! I feel bad for him, it is no one's fault but he could have made money all those hours he sat here. He kindly agreed to come with me to the office and when we followed by 3 of the ladies who were screening our bags. I was casually handed the headphones by a gentleman I recognised also from the screening point. Imagine a grown-arse man handing you headphones without the ipod when it was clear no one else had access to them, the cheeks! I asked what happened to the accompanying ipod. He proceeded to get rude and nasty and asked if I was accusing him of having stolen it! WTF man, I just want my ipod and to get to the guesthouse. At this point, I have no more energy to fight, I pick up my headphones and get into the taxi. Enough drama for one day.

Soon as we drive out of the parking lot and towards the city, I am greeted by giraffes grazing on the side road! How amazing is this? Typical African experience, you will be driven to a point of madness and then calmed by amazing creatures that you instantly forget any problems you have had. How many places in the world do you drive out of the airport to see giraffes on the road side? Apparently, they are part of the Nairobi national park wildlife that come to graze near the airport where it gets green during the rainy season.

It also hits me during the drive to the guesthouse that my period is a week late! Damn, if only I was aware of this, I would have paid more attention to my mood and reaction to things. PMS feels like this fish looks, goddamnit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mogadishu Madness - Part 2

The hotel is basic but clean and with friendly staff. As we have only a week in Mogadishu, no time to waste and Sunday is like a Monday here, offices are open. We shower, have a quick bite and head to the office. It is literally 2 houses away from the hotel but because of security regulations, we have to be escorted by the same guys with guns who brought us from the airport. I don’t even try to fight this, am just happy to be in Mogadishu and gonna go along with madness. We drive for like 30 seconds and get to the office. Staff are helpful and make the time to learn details of what I am here for and offer to help by arranging visits to beneficiaries and calling the local authorities in advance. Am really grateful coz these guys can make all the difference to my trip and if they are helpful then my mission will be accomplished. 

We spend couple of hours going thru the details of the next 4 days’ visits and we choose 2 groups of beneficiaries to visit: people receiving cash relief as a result of the recent droughts and small business grants given to beneficiaries trading in local markets. We choose 3 districts: Wadajir, Xamar Weyne and Waaberi. I am particularly excited to visit Waaberi because I partly grew up there and hoped to have a chance to steal a visit to my grandfather’s house, where we lived.

There is no movement at all in Mogadishu after sunset and so the office closes at 3:30 to give staff time to get home before sunset. That gave us time to rest and prepare for a busy week. I had no idea that it was a hot and humid season, it was unbearable to wear the hijab in this heat and the only ACs are in our rooms and offices. The hotel reception and lounge area, the only place with internet access, has no AC! So you choose to sweat with your internet at the lounge or be comfortable in your room with no access to internet, nice. I would worry about that 2moro, today, am just too tired and going to bed early.

Next day we go to the office at 7:30 to learn the city is at a standstill and colleagues on the other side of town can’t come to the office. Apparently, the army is celebrating, who knows what, and they road-blocked most of the city to avoid Al-Shabaab infiltration. This means no beneficiary visits, welcome to Mogadishu, where plans change by the second. I spend the day at the office to learn more about the beneficiaries and projects I will be working with. It is also an opportunity to spend more time and get to know the staff in Mogadishu office. Am amazed by how competent, knowledgeable and helpful they are. Anything I ask, I get detailed and very helpful answer, they seem on top of their work.

Day 3 in Mogadishu, no drama and no army celebrations so we are clear to go and I am accompanied by 2 staff one male and the other female, one with the Cash Relief project and the other with the Small Biz Grants project. We start with dress code to ensure I don’t stand out by wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes. My female colleague is kind enough to bring me an acceptable and popular wear called ‘jilbaab’, only problem was, it was blood red and I felt like a walking target for Al-Shabaab, lol. She assures me I will ‘fit’ right in and no one will realize I am a ‘Diaspora’ Somali who probably have left her culture and religion behind! Cool, I am not sweating the little details and anything to get me to ‘blend in’ I will do. I dress in red and we start our visits with beneficiaries in Buulo Xuubey market in Wadajir district. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mogadishu Madness

Mogadishu drama started at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. I showed up at 6am for my 8am flight. At the entrance to the check-in, I am greeted by 5 Somalis, 3 women and 2 guys, with the luggage of 10 people. Chaotic, loud and all over the place. I decided to leave them to their business and rushed to the check-in to avoid the madness. It said on my check-in card to report at gate 3. It turns out, gate 3 is at a place not fit for humans. A room at the end of the airport and in what looks like a basement, where unwanted ppl are shoved.

The room has groups to 3 destinations: Mogadishu, Libreville, and Kinshasa, all the loud and trouble-makers of Africa, lol. We wait and wait in a hot and stuffy room. The 2 other groups are called and the rest of us, mostly Somalis, wait with no information of why our flight is delayed. Every time Mogadishu is mentioned, even tho it is an announcement for the private flights like UN and EU, most of the ppl in the room rush to the gate and are stopped by one of the unhelpful gatekeepers and told to ‘please sit and wait some more’. Around 9pm, we finally get called and my colleague, who is based in Mogadishu and does this trip often, warns me to stand close to her as it gets ‘real chaotic’. It took me few moments to understand what she meant. Bus 540 parked outside and even tho they have announced they will send a second bus if this one filled up, the men just rushed into the bus like it was the last one standing! I and my colleague were at the front of the line so we managed to get in and it was fascinating to watch how the men behaved. We were about 10 women and more than 80 men. Out of the 10, half of them had children, some babies. The men did not seem to care and rushed passed them to help themselves into the seats, I was shocked! So I asked the flight attendants why they don’t first let women and children get in. She says, “Sorry we expect the men to give up seats for the ladies with young children”,  right. One young man stands up and asks the others to kindly give up their seats for the women with children. Few reluctantly get up and the women take the seats, some of them get the children to sit on the floor of the bus. It is amazing how insensitive and selfish this whole thing is and am thinking, people are acting like this for a seat on a bus that will take 2 minutes to the plane, how would they act if there was a serious crisis?! It gave me a taste of what might be ahead in Mogadishu and I didn’t like it a bit.

We board the flight and take off shortly. Interestingly, during the flight, the women are loud and vocal, talking like they are in a meat market, shouting from the back to speak to someone at the front, lol. So the men are aggressive in action and the women in words, interesting.

We arrive in Mogadishu an hour and 19 minutes later. Last time I took this trip in December 2004, there was no airport, just tarmac and men with guns. To my pleasant surprise, there was a proper airport this time, with clean and proper tarmac and an immigration control. We had to wait for few minutes for some VIP politician to get off first and meet the official welcoming committee, who strangely were allowed inside the airport and were in a file outside with flowers! OK, at least no guns so am not complaining. Few minutes later, we get off and are escorted into the immigration room. I notice a lot of AU army presence, including women dressed in military uniforms and with no headscarf. Mogadishu is sunny, hot and humid, a contrast to the weather we left behind in Nairobi. The immigration room is packed with 3 disorganised lines, there seem to be no different lines for nationals and foreigners. So we join a random line and much later notice, there was a separate women’s line! Good thing we didn’t see it sooner. We fill arrival form with the Somali flag, I am mildly impressed that there is a proper airport, immigration room and now a form, nice! Lol. 

There are aggressive guys who come upto you, they can sniff a fresh fish from miles, and ask if you need help with filling the form?! Visa is one thing, now you get help to fill a form by someone who looks like he needs to go back to primary school, how did they master the art of filling an immigration form? Amazing miracle. We tell them, no thanks and try to stay calm in the sweaty hot and unbearably loud room. We get to the front of the queue and the guy smiles and takes my passport and 50USD visa fee. This is the friendliest welcome I get at any airport! Few minutes later he gives me back my passport and a receipt and says since you are Somali, I won’t stamp your passport! What, you mean I get a say in whether I get a stamp on my passport or not, damn, I feel proud to be Somali, lol. Seriously tho, this means a lot right now, coz that is the last free page on my passport and if he doesn’t put a visa on it, it means I can come back without having to reply for a passport for least 3 more times! Finally, something good comes out of being a Somali, lol. He also tells me I can get a Somali passport in few hours! Damn, I should have come here much sooner.

We get out and the nice work driver is waiting outside. He picks up and drives like 5 minutes to the hotel, with a car full of heavily armed militias following us. I can’t stand these guys and avoid eye contact with them. Luckily for me, that is the last time I see them until I am leaving Mogadishu.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Is Allah really gonna solve the Somalia problem?

In an answer to the common and passive Somali response to any tragic event in Somalia: " "Ilaahay ayaa Soomaaliya u maqan", which translates roughly into "Allah will find a solution for Somalia." Here is what Idilay had to say: "Allah got his plate full with Syria and the US elections…Somalia is not on this year's agenda. Try next year...There's an opening between Palestine and 'I don't give a fuck about Africa." LMAO

Dear reader, if you are a Muslim and offended by this, I understand and thank you for your tolerance to visit this blog and read the rant. However, no point in going ahead and quoting me a chapter from the Quran. Coz it won’t make a difference, so don’t waste your time. Just trying to make sense of this madness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On the hunt for a missing exit stamp at Jomo Kenyatta Airport

Half a day spent with the nice ppl at Nyayo House searching for my multiple visa application, which seemed to have gone walkabout...Go to room 15, no room 19, no room 27 on the lower floor, no room 32.

2 hours and 4 rooms later, I get a letter with “sorry your application has been rejected”! Because, wait for this one, our system doesn't show evidence of your exit! If only I was invisible for real. But wait, don't you have copies of my last 7 entry visas and exit stamps? Yes we do but there is no evidence on our computer system. And why is that when I am always made to go thru security and my passport is scanned? Well mam, sorry but there is just no evidence of your exit and there is nothing I can do. Your only option is to reapply on your next trip. Can you at least give me back my application which has like 20 documents. Sorry mam, we can't do that, you need to get all those documents again.

And then room 15 smiles and says: I tell you what, now that I have met you in person, I can fix that problem. Yeah, how? Resuscitate the dead computer with my scanned exits? No, just bring a completed new application form with the supporting documents and I will “fast track” the application for you so you will get the visa before your Sunday trip! Er, thanks a million, but this sounds just a bit off. Because you have met me in person you are no longer concerned I turn into an invisible alien when exiting the glorified kiosk that is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport? Well, thanks mam.

I am traveling on Sunday and can’t wait to sneak past the heavily guarded 4 immigration booths with cameras, digital finger-print machines, computers and immigration officers with life-or-death expressions permanently fixed on their faces.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Somalia's Presidential Requirements - To apply, you must meet ALL of the conditions bellow.







If you have said yes to ALL of the above, then Somalia urgently needs YOU this August. You can lead this nation from disaster and suffering to peace and prosperity. Submit your Presidential candidacy urgently to

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Do they know it is summer...In Africa"

Dear pale and chopped-skin fellow humans in winterland, we have been following the news of this serious situation you are in and we have decided to extend a hand from a land called “Africa”.

The sun is so bright here you won’t survive without a smile, sunglasses and a chilled glass of rose by the sea. We hear u guys have to wear miserable grey suits to work in inhuman conditions, we can’t imagine what a winter + grey suit does to your spirits, poor things. But not to worry, we will do all we can to help you free yourselves of this misery. We are organising a charity concert: "Do they know it is summer…In Africa" and we are sure we can raise enough sun and warmth to cure your depression, miserable grey suits and pale skin.

Lots of sunshine and warmth from Africa.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First honest piece I have read about the endless Somali conferences on peace.

Saving Somalia? - Reflections On the Last 20 Years, and the Upcoming 'London Conference' [analysis] / African Arguments 08.02.12 by Richard Dowden

If I were a Somali I would thank Allah for the pirates. For more than 20years the world has stood by while successive civil wars destroyed thecountry, killing hundreds of thousands of people by bullets, disease andstarvation and reducing what was once a prosperous land to a war zone.

Butthe seizure of more than 200 ships by kids with guns in small craft haschanged all that.Britain, for whom shipping and trade around the Red Sea and the Gulf arevital national interests, has decided to take action. Pirates, thegovernment has realised, cannot be stopped as long as their land bases arenot ruled by a government. But on land the government is under attack fromIslamic fundamentalists who are recruiting and training terrorists. So a political solution must now be found for Somalia. So declared WilliamHague, the Foreign Secretary, clad in flack jacket and helmet, in Mogadishulast Thursday.

The search will begin at a conference in London on February23rd. At last.And what a conference it will be. Some 40 heads of government have been invited to Lancaster House. This was where traditionally former Britishterritories negotiated their independence, but in a curious irony ofhistory, this conference will instead discuss the take-over of Somalia. At least that is what the Italians, the former rulers of southern Somalia,want.

Somalia has been at war since the late 1980s when rebel movements foughtthe government of Siad Barre. He fled, but then they fell out with eachother and the country broke up. The North West, the old British-ruledSomaliland, re-established that state and declared independence. The rest of the north, Puntland, is also relatively peaceful and rules itself butawaits the re-establishment of a Somali state. So does some of the centre. But in the south and the capital, Mogadishu, there have been only twoperiods of peace. One followed the American invasion in 1992 after thefirst famine. But after losing 18 members of special forces - the BlackhawkDown incident - President Bill Clinton pulled out the US force and stopped supporting UN peacekeeping there. Somalia was left to stew.

The second peace period was a few months in 2006 when a united massuprising threw out the warlords and their rapacious armies. Governance wastaken over by local Islamic courts which gradually formed themselves intothe Islamic Courts Union. For a few months people were able to walk thestreets safely. Peace reigned and trade and investment began to flow. But with US support, the Ethiopians, who have no interest in a strong united Somalia, invaded, broke up the courts and installed a warlord as president.The wars resumed.

The cost of neglect has been immense. According to a recent report from theCenter for American Progress, a Washington think tank, the death toll fromthe wars is between 450,000 and 1.5 million and some 2 million displaced.The accumulative cost of Somalia's collapse has been more than $55 billion,including $22 billion from piracy. $13 billion has been spent onhumanitarian aid which is almost matched by the estimated amount Somalisoutside the country send back in remittances.

After the Ethiopians were forced to withdraw, the world handed Somalia overto Africa. Never has the phrase "African solutions to African problems"been used so cynically. Ugandan and Burundian troops under an African Unionflag, died protecting a few square kilometres of Mogadishu in the pretencethere was a government there to protect. There wasn't.

The so-called government lives in luxury hotels and apartments in Nairobi. According to a recent audit of the Somali government in 2009 - 10, 96% - yes Ninety Sixper cent! - of direct bilateral assistance disappeared, presumably stolen by corrupt politicians and officials. An official report by the UN Monitoring Group said: "The endemic corruptionof the leadership of the Transitional Federal institutions... is the greatest impediment to the emergence of a cohesive transitional authority and effective state institutions."

But it is these people who will becoming to Lancaster House on February 23rd. At the same time we know thatin much of Somalia there are very strong civil society organisations led byhighly respected men and women. They however will not be invited.

So perhaps the first thing this great conference should do is apologise tothe people of Somalia for ignoring their plight for so long. The second isto usher Somalia's professional politicians into the garden or off to smarthotels and bring in some Somalis who really represent the interests of thecountry and its long-suffering people.Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society.

Lost and found

I lost my bag on Friday and realised an hour after leaving Junction that I had left it in the ladies! Asked the taxi driver to turn around and while we were driving I mentally prepared myself for the worst and started thinking of what I could live without. I had my purse with almost no money, camera with so many pics but could live without, few ID cards with inconsistently spelled names that are incriminating, health insurance card, make-up (am trying to do the lady thing) and my beloved tweezers...I would chase someone to hell and back for these. I bought them from the Body Shop about 5 years ago and have had them in my bag ever since, I take them with me everywhere. They come handy, they are tiny, do a great job and come in cute case. I don't do much of beautifying but I believe in basic maintenance, like no old-Arab-man-look eyebrows and few hairs sticking out of my chin! I tend to rub my chin when talking or thinking and sometimes in the middle of a date, I feel a hair sticking out of my chin, eff...I excuse myself and go to the ladies with my emergency kit and pluck the annoying thing and all is well again. People come and go, I move coutries and change jobs, but my tweezers are loyal and I couldn't imagine life without them.

While driving back to Junction in the mad Nairobi rush hour traffic, I got a call from a colleague
with the message that a lady found my bag and has taken the trouble to call 3 people before finding my colleague using her Tanzanian number! Imagine that? This city famous for both violent mugging and petty theft and my bag lying in a public toilet for nearly an hour before someone took the trouble to track me down. I met her, an English lady working for Save the Children in Dar with her Tanzanian partner and their 2 kids. Gave her a big hug and offered to buy them drinks but they were in a hurry. I will meet them in Dar or Nairobi one day and we will have a drink, the least I could do to thank them for their kindness.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are you a Somali woman bored in Hargeisa? Take your white male friend on a 'local tour' and watch the magic unfold!

Took William on a 'local tour' around Hargeisa today. We got so many stares and comments and I even got hit by some weirdo hussling for money! The comments were interesting tho: "is she Somali? Why is she with the gaal (Christian)? Hey lady, is he your white cousin? He must be a German. Hey teacher, how arrrre you? Hello, where is your SPU (Special Police Unit that guard foreigners)? Are you single or married to him?"!! Then a nutball comes out of nowhere and shoves a paper with his phone number on William and asks him to send him money! I tell him to leave us alone and he hits me on my shoulder! A guy driving by stops and shouts at the man to leave us alone and that he is totally out of line and tells us not to worry, no one can touch us! I was in a bit of shock by the violence and touched by the driver's courage to stop and defend total strangers. Who needs live concert when there are this many mad people in Hargeisa? Now I know what to do about boredom, just walk around town with a white guy, lol.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The baby who was nearly born in Hargeisa central market!

Nadia, the cook, kindly offered to show me where she shops for grocery for tonight's bday party. She told me last week that she just started her 9th month of pregnancy and was expecting her 2nd baby late Feb. We left the house at 2pm and 10 minutes after we arrived the central market, she said she felt a 'pinch' and was in a bit of pain. I told her to sit down and rest while I did the shopping but before we could find a seat, her water broke! I called our driver to hurry back up and take her to the hospital. She only carried her phone with her and all her personal stuff were at the house. Worst, she worked the whole day to cook, clean dishes and the kitchen and didn't even have a shower! The driver picked her up 5 minutes later and picked her mom too and dropped them at Edna Adan Hospital. I took another hour to finish shopping and when I got back in the car, she called to say she has delivered a healthy baby boy!!!!! I am still in shock and thinking, damn, she nearly gave birth in the hot, smelly and loud market! And amazed by how quick and easy it seems....Am thinking, is it that easy to have a baby?! Getting ideas here.

We went out to shop for my bday but now going to celebrate 2 birthdays and welcome Nadia's baby boy!