Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria might just be the price the West pays for Iraq, and it will be paid by innocent lives!

Who decides what country should be bombed? A group who share skin colour, language and culture dominate this global decision-making process and tend to gang against any non-English speaking country who might disagree. The arrogance of the English-speaking world forcing their perspective on everyone else!

The irony here is that it involves Assad, the monster, but when you have discredited yourself by going to war in the name of "protecting innocent lives against Saddam" when really you were out there to secure your personal interests and dragged other countries along, you no longer qualify to decide who needs to be protected and against whom. Iraq was a costly lesson, Syria might be a turning point.

We can't have a 'world order' where America and Britain bully everyone else into bombing those who fall out of their favour. You can do it once or twice before you run out of credibility. Over a million people matched in London to protest against the war in Iraq and it fell on deaf ears, Assad's victims are paying the price today! Your actions have consequences and until you clean up the mess that is Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, more innocent people will die in the hands of Assad and other monsters as a direct result of the English-speaking West abusing their powers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Allah prefers cotton, I just can't produce a receipt to prove it.

Contrast these pictures and tell me if you still think the choice between the "umbrella" and the smaller black headscarf in Somali women's clothing styles is a reflection of who is more "pious".  Could this be a matter of an emerging different class system in Somali society?

Before we go any further, a disclaimer: I am using the pictures bellow to make a point about the different hijab styles and not to focus on the individuals in the picture (bellow picture, courtesy of the BBC). I know, some people find it hard to focus on a subject and debate the issue rather than the personalities. It must be due to that syrupy tea diet we are on, too much sugar can get one too hyper to follow thorough a logical debate. So if you can, please stay focused on the costume and not the girls. 

As I was saying, it is down to economics. Secondly, and I don't have a proof, am pretty sure Allah prefers cotton, is environmentally friendly and would frown upon cheap nylon umbrellas which in the Somali unforgiving heat, will make the cleanest woman stink like goat meat gone nasty. 

Exhibit 1: Nylon Allah won't approve of. It is China cheap (nothing personal Chinese friends), not good for human skin and shit makes a woman stink. All these should go in the haraam files of any self-respecting Muslim woman's fashion book.

22 years of civil war, rampant violence against women, alarming level of rape and extreme poverty, horror combination of factors might have led to women dressing in nylon umbrellas but if you say that out loud, all the nutjobs armed with very little Quran and an plenty AK47s will end your life quicker than you would have a minute to explain. So, I am doing it here, far from guns, knives and men who can't tell the difference between clinical madness and divine intervention. Cyber space safety, Maasha Allaah!

Exhibit 2: Human-friendly hijab, cotton and so far no receipts these women are any less "pious" or Muslim than Team Nylon Umbrella. Again, I don't have any evidence and only going by that thing called "gut feeling" Allah will stamp "Nacam Yes Nacam" on this style hijab and no one will go to hell. 

Being a Muslim hijabi woman doesn’t have to look like a malfunctioned rainbow slapped on an umbrella or a moving London bus! You can be modest and a seriously practicing Muslim while dressed in decent and colour-coordinated hijab. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Preachers by day and sexual predators by night, Somali men!

The separation of public and private personas of majority of Somali men borders on psychotic! Hold your guns and let me explain before you shoot.

On the outside, most men act honorable, some dress in religious costumes and grow beard others are seen as “respectable elders or intellectuals”. These men command respect from not only their families and neighbours but sometimes also from their clan and Somali society in general. They lead what would be considered decent and responsible lives, most (these days you will struggle to find a boy over 15 who is not already married with kids) are married with children and some even have multiple wives. I am describing the average Somali man, also known as Faarah. He has an average of 2 wives and 8 kids. He is skinny and tall with a dashing smile - apart from green teeth monsters who chew khat on a daily basis.

Most Faarahs pay a lot of attention to Haliimo’s dress code, (for the non-Somali readers, Haliimo is your average Somali woman). I would go as far as to say most Faarahs have few full time jobs:

1)    Marrying, divorcing and wife-replacing at least once a year.
2)    Selflessly repopulating Somalia and making up for the couple of million lives lost to the war (never mind that we have more than replaced that number just few years into the war and now desperately need population control methods)
3)    Volunteer moral police for women’s dress code, and this particular full time volunteer job is done with such zeal we often have victims physically violated by someone “outraged” by “inappropriate” dress code!

When in a group, most men act all respectable and decent. They talk a lot about religion, quoting what Allah and the Prophet have said, the role of women in Islam (latter is their favourite section of the Quran). Then something strange happens when the same men get a minute with a woman alone. Suddenly it is like a sexually starved deamon takes over their bodies and they turn totally creepy! I have had so many lines of the most inappropriate sexual jokes from usually older Somali men to fill a book, seriously. But I will give you just one example to illustrate my point.

Late last year in Mogadishu an older male friend, or I thought he was a friend, said something to me in front of 2 other male friends that my heart skipped a beat in disbelieve. We were sitting at a hotel lobby having dinner and joking after a tough day of Shabaab bombing in the city and when he got up to leave for his room, out of the blue said “I hope you never starve and always have both your mouths fed”!!! My Somali isn’t as polished so it took me a while to figure out what he meant and I did it mainly as a result of the shocked look on the faces of my 2 male friends sitting next to me. To my horror and surprise I figured out he meant “may you never run out of food and dick”! How incredible is it that a so called respectable and well known man in Somali politics circles would say such a rude and crude thing while sober and in public? Don’t worry, I won’t scoop as low and add his picture on this entry, even though I am really tempted.

He ran off quickly to his room before I had a chance to confront him so I did it the following day at lunch, when he walked over to my table as if nothing had happened and greeted me with a big friendly smile. I would have thought I dreamt the whole thing up had it not been for the witnesses! He seemed genuinely surprised that I “took the joke so hard”, “it was just an innocent thing otherwise I wouldn’t have said it so openly. I thought of all women, you would be strong and open enough to understand such a joke”…Like wow, why don’t you just rape me for a joke, that is the only thing left!

It is that psychotic and ‘normal’ to abuse women and sexually harass them with such ease, result of accepted culture of violence and impunity.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A UNDP gimmick: providing vocational training for 1190 youths in a country of 67% youth unemployment, using their own figures!!

First item that showed up on my twitter feed this morning was of few Somalis retweeting a story published yesterday, 12th August, by the titled: “the UNDP provides vital job-skills training for youth in Somalia”. This had me intrigued since employment in Somalia is a subject close to my heart, so I went to the site and read the article.

Usually websites, more so than print media given the rapid pace of online media, would print a current or recent relevant story.  Instead,, one of the biggest African news portals has published a story, for internet years, ancient and based entirely on a self-claim success by the UNDP.

The story is based on a study commissioned by the UNDP on youth unemployment and it found that a staggering "73% of Somali population is under 30 and 42% is between 19 and 29 years" I am no statistician but I could guess that much given the average Somali household consists of a single mother and 6 children! The report goes on to state that "the unemployment rate for youth aged 14 to 29 amounts to 67% - one of the highest in the world." The UNDP then goes on to share its success story of having given 1190 youths from across Somalia a vocational training...In 2012!! Out of 67% of an estimated population of 15 million!! The fact that the UNDP is able to share these embarrassing figures of vocational training in the context of the magnitude of youth unemployment is in itself telling of the carelessness in which the UNDP deals with Somalia! 

This story is baffling, to say the least. Has the UNDP run out of new and interesting stories to tell about its massive operation in Somalia to be sharing an outdated and a really embarrassing story of under-achievement? What has the UNDP done in Somalia and on the subject of youth unemployment, apart from a study that tell us what we already know, that youth unemployment in Somalia is really high…Duh! A 5 year old could tell you why Shabaab exists and where they find their recruits! This outdated but still fashionable way the “do good but you don’t have to prove you really did any good” industry uses the opportunity to 'share their peanuts achievements' when a “new study of youth unemployment” is published is not only cheesy but really a piss-take in addressing an issue as serious as youth unemployment in a devastated country like Somalia. 

Secondly, we have no way of knowing if the UNDP really did train these youth beyond their claim. It gets better, the UNDP in this story claims 40% of the 1190 trained youth have found employment at the end of their training! Wow, with such success rate and knowing how the UNDP overstretches its success stories, I would have expected them to paste these youths pictures and job titles in the achievement section of their 500-page report to justify all the money that gets spent on white-employment salaries, Rest and Recuperation from the dreadful experience that is 2-day "field work" and hardship allowances.

Meanwhile, will the UNDP ever publish how many of its Somalia staff are Somali nationals? Why is the UNDP employing so many non-Somalis when there are qualified and competent Somali nationals for those positions? How many Somalis does the UNDP employ at top policy, managerial and decision-making levels? We can easily find out how many Somalis the UNDP employs at the bottom, as drivers, cleaners, cooks and tea-ladies, and they are so many.  The UNDP has been working in Somalia for far too long to be publishing a report on a subject so familiar to Somalis and then using these “findings” to celebrating having provided a handful of youth vocational trainings!! The UNDP has the resources to address youth unemployment in Somalia in a meaningful and honest way instead of this gimmick and disrespectful manner.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Breaking news: President Hassan Sheikh wished Somalis a happy Eid and handouts for the poor from the better off!!

In his special Eid day speech, President Hassan Sheikh urged the “better off” Somalis to "give and share with their poorer neighbours so their children can also celebrate Eid"...Ahh, how thoughtful and touching is this?!

What is odd about this kind of emotive and thoroughly useless gesture, apart from the fact that the good will only last as long as the cameras are rolling, is that Somalis do not need a reminder from the President or anyone else to be charitable, they genuinely give and share even when they have very little! Save your valuable airtime Mr President and tell us something useful.

Secondly, Dear Mr President, emotional blackmail does not feed mouths and will not detract from your inability to come up with solutions to poverty and if there are that many poor children in Mogadishu (let's not even talk about the rest of the country you are not in charge of), it is top of your list of duties to create jobs for their parents so they can feed them. On a special day like today, I was hoping you will give us real good news or keep silent, the way you normally do on most important national issuesToday I expected news of your detailed plans on how you are going to tackle poverty, create jobs and support entrepreneurship so no child has to depend on handouts for survival or to celebrate Eid. And your time frame to deliver on these.

Do you know how many children can be fed by the cost of your London/Istanbul/Tokyo conferences jet hires and entourage alone? While we were busy killing each other for the past 22 years, the world has changed beyond recognition and just in case you haven’t been keeping up with the technological advances, there are amazing new ways to participate in conferences and meetings across the world without stepping out of Villa Somalia and wasting the little money you have! Skype and google video conferencing, webinar, video streaming are just a fraction of the tools available to you. Does your young and capable staff at Villa Somalia share these tools with you? I doubt it, free trip to Europe and America is why most of them are working for you, just saying.  

I am aware the task facing you is daunting and a condition created by lawlessness for over two decades can not be reversed in a year in office and I am sure you meant well by that speech but it was a letdown of the poor in Somalia. They deserve more from their President than asking their better off neighbours to throw something at them on a special day like today!

Shame on you, Mr President! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Somali fingerpointing politics while we protect our clan thugs in office

Will we ever see an Isaaq defend the rights of Jubbaland, a Majeerteen the rights of Somaliland, an Ogaadeen the rights of Federal Somalia, Abgaal defend the rights of Puntland? Are even our intellectuals capable of engaging in politics as individuals instead of from their clan's background and perspective?

Yes, you have the right and should protect your own home-town first but surely not at the cost of our common good? How do we find that balance? How do we ensure our home-town villages and lands are included in this complex Somali federalism negotiation while not walking all over our neighbour's rights and peacefully co-exist in Somalia? How do we create a Somalia that ensures every citizen's rights are protected, not just the lands, and create an environment to unleash our potential as individuals and ppl instead of constantly being on survival and self-defense mode? 

This is a rich land, more than enough to properly provide for every Somali to live a dignified life. The obstacle to peace and prosperity is our mindset and our inability to stay neutral in the face of clan bigotry! This needs to change fast if we are not to slip back into the horrors of the last 22 years.