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  1. Hussein Samatar, the late pioneer becomes the first Somali to have a street named after him KMSP-TVMINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak announced his final act before leaving office -- creating a "grand pedestrian walkway" named after an influential Somali immigrant to connect the West Bank. "The West Bank, which is our Ellis Island, became an island separated from the rest of the city," Rybak said. "What we will do now is: We will be reconnecting that island with a grand pedestrian walkway." The walkway, which will cross Interstate 35W will be called Samatar Crossing, named after Hussein Samatar, the first Somali-American elected to public office in Minnesota.SOURCE: KMSP
  2. Jennifer Grout, the American woman who narrowly won the "Arabs got talent" contest , coverts to Islam A video has emerged of Jennifer Grout declaring the shahada and reciting the Koran in a what appears to be an authentic video posted on Youtube. is some background information from the UAE's The National. The 23-year-old American singer, famed for her pitch-perfect rendition of Arab classics despite not knowing the language, seems to have accepted the faith in a YouTube video released on Sunday. The video has her declaring the shahada – otherwise known as the declaration of faith – in front of two men where she states: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.”While the video remains to be confirmed by Grout, the Moroccan news website Morocco World News confirmed the video was recorded in Fes, where Grout presently resides, studying the Arabic language; the young man beside her is speculated to be her fiance.*The news caps a whirlwind five months which saw the Bostonian reach the Arabs Got Talent finale in December after a series of spellbinding covers of the legendary Arab song birds Umm Kalthoum and Fairuz.Speaking exclusively to The National after bowing out of the competition, Grout said she planned to spend the time after the show contemplating her future.“I don’t know yet,” she said.“I am now just enjoying these moments and later I will sit down and think of what to do next.” Read more:
  3. Former Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdiweli M. Ali is elected President of Puntland A US-trained economist has been elected the new president of Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland after defeating the incumbent by one vote, official results show. President Abdirahman Farole obtained the vote of 32 MPs, compared with the 33 of his rival, Abdiweli Ali Gas.Mr Farole said he accepted defeat, saying the peaceful election was a model for the rest of Somalia.MPs elects the president in Puntland, once the main base of Somali pirates.'Democratic culture'Many of the pirates, who seize ships off the East African coast for ransom, have retreated to the south because of a government crackdown on them, says BBC Somalia analyst Mary Harper.But the southern-based militant Islamist group al-Shabab is increasingly operating in Puntland, which is believed to be rich in oil reserves, posing a major security challenge to the incoming president, she says.In December, Puntland officials blamed al-Shabab for a car bomb attack that killed seven people in the port city of Bossasso.Mr Gas - who studied at several US universities, including Harvard - beat Mr Farole in the third round in which one ballot was spoilt giving him the 33-32 victory margin, local media reports.Neither got a clear majority in the first two rounds.Mr Gas becomes the fourth president of Puntland, which is far more stable than other parts of Somalia.Mr Farole, who was president for five years, congratulated him on his victory, saying the election had been conducted in a "civilized" way."Puntland has shown the rest of Somalia and the world that the democratic culture is alive and well here and this is what must guide us as we rebuild our country," he added.Mr Gas, the prime minister of Somalia in an interim administration from June 2011 to October 2012, said he welcomed the fact that Mr Farole had accepted defeat with "great dignity".It is rare for East African leaders to step down without challenging election results.As a former Somali prime minister, Mr Gas may be more willing than his predecessors to work with the UN-backed government in Mogadishu which is trying to unite Somalia after years of civil war, our correspondent says.In August, Mr Farole said he had suspended co-operation with the federal government, accusing it of adopting a "defective" constitution.The UN special envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, welcomed Mr Gas's victory, saying Puntland was "leading the way on the development of a federal Somalia".
  4. LEWISTON, Maine — After fleeing her war-torn Somalian village, Salima Nuh learned about peace education and conflict resolution in a Kenyan refugee camp. But it was when she and her husband moved to Lewiston that Nuh was able to use those skills and aid the local Somali-Bantu community as a “role model.” Her family, including 10 children, and the various groups she helped organize to improve the lives of Somali women in Lewiston continue to reel from Nuh’s tragic death a month ago. Nuh, 37, was killed Dec. 8 in a head-on collision on Route 196 in Topsham. At the time, she was seven months pregnant with her 11th child. In a crowded second-floor apartment on New Year’s Eve, Nuh’s husband, Abdi Maalin, watched his children scurry about, some playing on a small computer and others transfixed by a “Curious George” cartoon on television. At times, speaking of the woman he married two decades ago, Maalin blinked away a tear, telling in sometimes broken English how the two made their way from a Somalian village to their new life in Lewiston. Maalin, 39, married Nuh in Buaale, Somalia, when he was 19 and she was 17. Somalia has been embroiled in a civil war since 1991, and the lawlessness in their country eventually led to tragedy for the couple. “One day, some people came to our village and destroyed our homes,” he said. “They burned our homes, we lost everything. And they raped my wife.” The couple fled to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, hiding from the militia during the day and running at night for nearly two weeks, until they met others who sought to escape the violence. Maalin and Nuh paid for a car to drive them to the Kenyan border. At the Dadaab camp, and then a second camp in Kakuma, Maalin and Nuh were trained in peace education, and she learned about conflict resolution. Nuh became known for her ability to listen and help others. “Whenever someone called her, she was going to listen,” he said. “And she became the first woman to teach other women about peace.” But the Somalian militia invaded the refugee camps as well, her husband said. At one point, while collecting firewood with three other women, Nuh was again raped. Finally, in 2004, after much paperwork and waiting, the couple immigrated to the U.S. After three months in Bridgeport, Conn., they moved to Lewiston at the suggestion of friends. In the Somali-Bantu community of Lewiston, Nuh became “a role model,” according to Muhidin Libah, spokesman for the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston Auburn, where Nuh was a board member. Nuh became active in a number of efforts to help Somali women. She helped organize a Women’s Empowerment Program, which meets in apartments throughout the community “to let women come together and discuss what’s good for women and small girls,” spokesman Muhidin Libah said. She helped found a program that connects cleaning jobs with women who don’t speak English, and worked to organize a small business in which women weave traditional African baskets to sell in the community. Another project helped women get driver’s permits. “For some of those women, that program took them out of the house for the first time,” Liban said. Nuh also gained the confidence of community members with her peace-keeping abilities. Her husband recounted a time when she responded to a home after a child called to say his parents were fighting, and he had notified police. “She went to the house before the police got there, and when the policeman came, he saw them sitting together and talking to each other,” Maalin said. “She told them, ‘We called you, but we have the situation solved. Thank you very much.’ If she could not go to that house, maybe the police would take action.” Nuh’s death, Libah said, was “quite a loss for the community.” But he said the women who worked with Nuh are determined to press on with their work with women and with the support of community leaders. Without his wife, Maalin seems overwhelmed by how his life has changed. “You can see, I’m the mother, I’m the father, I’m the grandmother and I’m the grandfather now,” he said. “I’m everything. I have to do everything I can do to take care of my family.” In addition to 10 children with Nuh, Maalin is the father of five children with another woman, he said. Together, they range in age from 2 to 20, with one recently graduated from Lewiston High School, and the rest — except for two toddlers — scattered at various schools. Maalin has not returned to his job as a sanitation worker since Nuh’s death. Instead, he is caring for his youngest two children, ages 2 and 4, and walks the others to and from school. “If I go to work, who will do that?” he asked. He hopes to find a job he can work at night, and that an elder son or the mother of his other children can help get the smaller ones to school each day. Since Nuh’s death, Maalin said, neighbors and other community members stop him on the street when they see him or his children, and they tell them they remember Nuh “because she was a good woman.” “She was unforgettable,” he said. The Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston Auburn is collecting donations for Nuh’s children. It has raised approximately $4,000 as of Friday, according to Libah. To donate, send checks to the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston Auburn, 145 Lisbon St., Ste. 506, Lewiston, ME 04240. Source: Bangordailynews
  5. Somalia Online - The newly elected Minneapolis City Councillor Abdi Warsame was sworn in at Minneapolis City Hall. Abdi Warsame who became the first Somali elected to a city council seat in Minnesota, chose to don a traditional Somali garment for the inaugural event attended by many of Abdi’s supporters and Somali community leaders. Abdi Warsame who spoke to the media afterwards, promised the voters that his main priority will be job creation.
  6. Supporters of the newly elected President of Puntland take to streets to celebrate Somalia Online - Supporters of the newly elected President of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas took to the streets of major cities of Puntland on Wednesday, following his victory against incumbent President Abdiraham Mohamed Faroole.Throngs of supporters poured into the streets right after it became apparent Abdiweli won the narrowly contested vote. There were victory celebrations in Bosaso, Qardo, Garowe, Buhodle and Galkaio as supporters waved flags and chanted slogans.Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas, who was appointed Somalia’s Prime Minister in 2011, became the first former Prime Minister to lead Puntland. "Puntland is leading the way on the development of a federal Somalia,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Nicholas Kay after the election result.“The United Nations support the people of Puntland and all of Somalia as they move together towards peace, reconciliation, democracy and prosperity. I applaud the Speaker and Members of Parliament for their efforts leading to the smooth process of today’s vote. I also appreciate the important role of the traditional leaders. I congratulate all the people of Puntland," Said Nocholas Kay, reiterating the mature tradition of democratic process in Puntland. New Snippet
  7. On September 15, a young, towering Somali girl landed in Toronto, Canada. Looking at the 20-year-old, everything seemed just fine. She did not look like she would be a befitting image on a booklet about squalor and abject want, especially if the narratives in mainstream media are used as yardsticks. Just a few hours earlier, she had been driven hundreds of kilometres from Dadaab, home to the world’s largest refugee camp, to Nairobi, from where she would take the flight to Toronto. She was heading there, not to tour the land or visit a friend, but to study chemical engineering at the prestigious University of Toronto, which is ranked at position 24 in the latest Academic Ranking of Word Universities. To make it to such an institution of higher learning from the dusty Dadaab is a great achievement, but it is much more extraordinary for a girl to leap that far in a society that still favours boys. HELPLESSJust before she left, Fatuma Omar Ismail, 20, granted DN2 a short interview at Hagadera, one of the camps within the Dadaab complex. She grew up here, surviving on two things — the donor-dependent economy of the place, and her instincts. Like many her age here, life did not look that promising. No, not at all. All around her she could see people barely surviving, young and old beaten by the vagaries of a refugee camp, fathers unable to fend for their families, and mothers watching helplessly as disease wasted their children. But it was not just sadness that characterised her early childhood. Children tend to be naïve, almost ignorant. As such, as the mothers and fathers struggled to feed their families, their children, among them the young Fatuma, jumped around, singing nursery rhymes and maybe jumping rope. Dadaab was home, and home is always a celebration. This, though, had not always been home. Fatuma was born in Kismayu, a port city in the Lower Jubba region of Somalia best known for once being a stronghold of the notorious Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Al-Shabaab. CIVIL WARHer parents fled the country when the civil war gobbled up all that they had. After a long and tortuous journey, the family arrived in Hagadera, where they were settled inside the refugee camp. They have been there since. When she came of age, Fatuma joined a primary school in the camp, where she slowly learnt how to read and write under the watch of inexperienced teachers, some of whom were primary school dropouts. To supplement the little she learnt in school, her father bought her books and encouraged her to read them at home. He told her that everything was possible, that she could break away from the yoke of refugee life if she wanted, and that books were her only hope out of the squalor she had known all her life. “My father never disparaged me for being a girl, unlike what many of my peers went through,” she remembered. “He always wanted the best for me.” As a young girl, Fatuma listened to her father, reading her books diligently and seeking help whenever she was stuck. But as she approached the teenage years, the rebellious nature of the age started to stealthily replace the uprightness that had guided her all through. EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCEShe stopped reading at home, arguing that she had a retentive memory, so she did not need to put in the extra effort. She was wrong, and the folly of her thinking hit her when she joined Standard Seven at her school. Where she had been performing exceptionally well in the lower classes, she failed miserably, scoring a miserly 177 marks out of the possible 500. Her father hit the roof. How could she, he asked, fail so badly when he had dedicated so much time and money to providing her with all the books she needed, and more? Fatuma knew her father was justified. She had performed badly in the exams because she had stopped taking matters seriously, and that had to stop. And so she buried herself in books. It worked. By the time she sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination in 2008, she was so prepared that she did not expect to get less than 400 marks out of the possible 500. When the results came, however, she had scored 36 marks less than her 400 target. “I was disappointed,” she says, “even though I was still the best girl in the entire north-eastern region.” As a result of her sterling performance, she received a scholarship to study at the Kenya High School the following year. CULTURE SHOCKElated, she boarded a bus to the capital city, home to Kenya High. She was, however, not prepared for the culture shock that awaited her; first of all, she had to wear the school uniform, leaving behind the hijab she was accustomed to, and which she had always viewed as a religious obligation. She was uncomfortable about it at first, but she settled down and life became a little bit more bearable. The ban on her hijab, however, troubled her for a number of days, but she did not report it to her parents because, she says, “they would have immediately withdrawn me from the school”. The hijab is a mandatory head covering for Muslim girls, and has been a source of friction between conservative administrations and religious purists, both locally and internationally. In April this year, for instance, female Muslim students put their head teachers on the spot for forbidding them to wear, among other religious pieces of clothing, the head scarf while in school. “The rule is putting us at a crossroads,” said Rehema Waqo, a student from northern Kenya during the sixth student leaders’ conference at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. “Should we go against our religion and stay in schools, or should we leave a very good school that we have been admitted to and transfer to a Muslim school?” BOOKWORM The issues she was raising were the same that had troubled Fatuma years earlier, and to divert the dilemma she buried herself in books once more. The learning environment was far much better than that in Dadaab, and Kenya High was well-equipped and staffed. “The teachers were quite an inspiration and the laboratories well stocked,” she says. It was while at Kenya High that she noticed she had something for chemistry, yet she had always thought she would fare better in biology and medicine. “The one thing I loved about Kenya High School is the fact that students were told they could become anything they wanted,” she remembered. “They believed they could make changes in the society. But students in Dadaab are always told they are refugees, and that constant reminder of their destitution tends to cloud their visions.” In 2012, Fatuma sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), scoring a 78-point A-. A year later, she was selected for the World University Service of Canada (WUSK) scholarship. As she prepared to travel to Canada, Fatuma started talking to students back home in Dadaab. She wanted to change their attitude towards school, and of course reading. Even refugees, she told them, can perform equally well in national examinations if they prepare well in advance. “You would think the girls would listen to me, but the boys were much better. The girls were disgruntled because they did not want a fellow girl to lecture them,” she said. AN INSPIRATIONOn her relative success, she said, “It does not matter whether you are in Dadaab or Nairobi, if you really work hard in school, it will definitely pay off”. Fatuma strikes you an as open-minded person, some sort of liberal, but she is also equally God-fearing. Before she set foot in class, she studied the Quran and other books of Islam at a madrassa. A decade from now, when she completes studying and makes a name for herself, she hopes to establish a foundation to assist women and children back in Somalia. In Dadaab, she has become the talking point, something the community can be proud of, for once. Young girls are encouraged to read and “be like Fatuma”. They might not all make it to Toronto, or to any other high-end university for that matter, but, as you read this, a girl who was once just like them will be dealing with test tubes at one of the best universities in the world. Hard, but not impossible. And that, for a lot of girls in Dadaab, as indeed anywhere else, is such an inspirationSource: