October: A Black Month for Somalia

Published on 16th October 2018

On October 14, 2017 the worst and most horrendous terror attacks in Somali history occurred. Grief struck every single Somali around the world. It was if, everyone knew someone who had been killed or injured. It brought back memories from the civil war trauma of wondering who was dead or alive. The deaths of loved ones made our brains re-adjust, and question humanity: is there any decency left in the world? The chaos and severe agony in our hearts remains a permanent burden.

Exactly one year ago, an immoral person orchestrated one of the most lingering events in the ‘Horn of Africa,’ Somalia. The lives of more than six hundred and sixty-one people were lost instantly, hundreds missing and many slowly died from their injuries. We mourn the loss of what could have been Somalia’s greatest future leaders or African heroes. We pray and give our respect to every single individual we lost to the Zoobe exposition and the hundreds that still unaccounted for.

In Mogadishu, people live like their next day is not promised. October 14, 2017 impacted and altered the way many Somalis navigate and live their lives today. The Zoobe junction was a strategic target because it is one of the most bustling hubs that connect numerous schools, restaurants and the infamous Banaadir University where many medical students congregate to discuss the developments of medical amenities in the country. This area is also quite popular with elders who gather for tea outside of restaurants to have what we call “fadhi-ku- dirir,” (fighting while seated), an innocent political discourse about what clan is in power and topics that are relevant to the Somali public. This is also a key transport spot, where many bus rides transfer and hop onto different modes of transportation, with the support of young bus boys who call out stops.

On a day like any other, the loudest and most impactful explosion of Somalia’s history took place. The blast was heard across  the Banaadir region, creating fear in everyone who had a child in school, people at work and elders who gathered daily to socialize in the area. 

Death by explosion is dominated by young people. The most of the lives lost in Somalia’s explosions-gun violence are under the age of thirty-five. Under thirty-five is commonly a significant time of a person’s life. This is when young people begin to establish their future for themselves and for their nations. In this case, it seems as if Somalia is cursed to devour her own before they can even reach their full potential. Consistent bomb-explosions have changed how Somalis view themselves; it changed the way we look at our religion and culture as whole.

The government and the Somali elders seem to just move on and clean up the mess made during the explosion, leaving the victims’ families behind to suffer on their own. Is this not adding insult to injury?  The families of the victims are used as a ‘guinea pig’ by politicians and media outlets for publicity.

The role of Somali Religious scholars and traditional elders

At some point, we have to express that we are devastated and tired of living in fear and losing young people to selfish and heinous acts, which can and should be prevented. We must pressure the government and so called “Nabadoons” to protect the safety of our children and people for this matter.

Understandably, Mogadishu is the capital and the Somali nationalist hub, but we also have to consider the fact that there is an entire population, who only know Mogadishu as “home.” They have lived here for generations, through the war, and all they know is Mogadishu and when it gets unsafe due to this kind of mayhem, what will they do: risk their lives crossing oceans to become refugees or become internally displaced people within their home country?

Political decisions, tribalism and other harmful acts, have made the indigenous people of Mogadishu the victims of these terror attacks. It’s important to recognize and respect the needs of the people especially when it comes to safety. If this continues, not only will Somalis continue to live in fear but their will continue to be a new generation of citizens who will live and carry intergenerational trauma that will negatively impact their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

In the Somali culture, religious scholars, traditional elders (Nabadoons and Odayaldhaqameed) are important figures, but yet in these horrendous cases, they are silent. If they condemn these unconscionable acts, it would at least give people hope. It can also be an example for the younger youth to always resist violence. We are in 2018, and violence should not be in the equation and ways of our life.

An example on how important traditional elders and religious scholars are: in 2006 when Ethiopia invaded Mogadishu, one of the most vocal leaders against the extreme violence was Ahmed Dirrie Ali (A Somali Traditional leader). Today younger Somali under the age thirty-five view him as hero just because he extremely stood his ground and presented resistance against violence towards our people. Today we need someone like Ahmed Dirrie in the current traditional elders and religious scholars. The Mogadishu youth and population are getting extremely drained by explosions and gun violence.

Role of Somali youth resistance against violence

In Somalia especially in the Banaadir region, the people need a deep seated apology and compensation. They need restorative and transformative justice. This is a direct message to my brothers and sisters in Somalia; the youth must take responsibility and act. These acts can include peaceful rally where they display rejection of any young Somali getting killed in any circumstance. Students, teachers, parents and allies around the nation are preparing to riot for their safety those measures in the wake of the deadly expositions and shootings.

There is an African proverb that stays “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” In Mogadishu or any other regions, where violence is almost normal, it is dangerous to all Somalis therefore we should not wait for the government to solve our issues. The government is already at a recovering stage therefore we should not sit and wait. In this, case the fact that we as youth are inactive and waiting for the government to protect us is preposterous. Young people in Somalia have more power to change the society than politicians or leaders who fail to understand the importance of peace and the value of human life. Young people in Somalia need to stick together and demand their right to live grow and prosper in their home country.

Role of Media

There is nothing more hypocritical than some emotional reporters who end up exploiting the image of a dead human being dragged under a vehicle. It is unacceptable to normalize such an insensitive move. Mainstream media is dehumanizing Somalia and Africa as a whole.

In conclusion, the younger Somali generation have a burning desire and hope that October 14 will never be forgotten, but also never occur again. We will continue to reflect, pray and carry the souls of the hundreds of innocent people killed last year. In our society the civil war is debated frequently but there is no point of looking back, if we are choosing to let history repeat itself.

Long Live Somalia

Hidaya Hassan

Email: somalihistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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