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Another moving story from one of my favorate somali female writers

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Waranka Ninka Kugu Dhufta Iyo Ka Kugu Dhaqdhaqaajiya Kee Baa Xun

Rhoda A. Rageh — Abu Dhabi, UAE — 15 March, 2005



My great niece, I will call her Bahsan was barely a three year old baby playing in her back yard in the town of Hargeisa. A pleasantly plump girl with beautiful black hair, she was the beloved first child of my niece. She and her neighbor were playing hide and seek when the brutal bombs thrown indiscriminately landed on them. Her friend died instantly but my great niece suffered a serious injury which is still with her. My family ran west to Geed Deeble where the child was nursed with the bare minimum. Her long and painful journey ended in Holland where the horrified Dutch society displayed on television the contrasted images of her childhood smile with her brutally lacerated body. My great nice was young of course and remembers very little except the psychological and physical scars that are for ever daunting and haunting. Her mother lives with even more psychological scars. She was the one who was left destitute with a severely wounded child, the one who had to dodge the bombs with a bleeding child on her back, the one who had to care for such a child in Geed-deeble then Dulcad then Djibouti and finally to a merciful foreign land, the one who not only had to relive the horrors of Siad Barre's and Ismail yare's scars but to recount those horrors to the whole world through television and press interviews.


My cousin who is also my namesake was a young housewife on the day that SNM mujahidiin entered Hargeisa. She was widowed at the tender age of 22 when her husband responded to a dutiful call to secure some cars for the Mujahidiin. He met with the ****** who killed him and left his body to the vultures. She too had to run with her two young orphans. At the time she did not know she was in her early pregnancy. She too ended her journey in Holland with three boys who will never visit the marked grave of their father.


I was driving a car from one city to another in Holland while I was on vacation. Both my niece and my cousin were in the car with me. It was a beautiful Saturday, in the fall when the weather is neither hot nor cold. We were listening to some Somali music and both were happily singing. The music continued and I chanted with it, but all I could hear from my relatives were silent whimpers and demure silence. I looked at one and then the other. The song that was on was "Addigaan Hargeisaay kuu soo Halgamayaa." I turned off the song and focused on the road. In an apologetic tone, both explained to me that they remembered their lives in Hargiesa. Absorbed in my own thought and guilt I wondered if what made them cry was nostalgia for the good old days, or the severe treatment that had chased them to Holland. That incident happened 11 years after they survived the genocide. On that day, I realized that no matter how close I was to their plight I could never feel what they felt at that moment. Ismail and his cronies left deep unyielding scars on many Somalilanders. I consider my family the luckiest yet I will never forgive those who inflicted these tragedies on my family. The pain and memory is alive and hurting and we are not allowing Ismail to put salt on the wounds of our families. Wounds that he had never experienced and will never understand.


When intellectuals from Somaliland like Abdi Duseh and Suleiman Nooh were in Siad Barre's prison to be hanged, we stormed state capitols and state departments to stop that but were never able to articulate our misery to the American government. Our cries were dismissed as disruptive. The systematic genocide of which Ismail and his cronies participated were called "internal conflict" until the day an American Lawyer Mr. Mike Posner read the most fantastic, well researched paper I have ever heard. He was a stranger to all of us but the story he read was our story, so intimate, so touching, so true and so thoughtful. I could not let that stranger slip away. He was so precious. I searched for his number and called him to: a) thank him deeply and b) to ask him how did he managed to get our story right? He accepted my gratitude but also said in a simple breath "that wasn't my paper. It was written by a Somali woman." I asked "who" in earnest. I was so proud to know that was Raaqiya Omaar who was then part of a team of Lawyers in an organization called "Human Rights Watch." Raaqiya has earned my respect for articulating what many of us couldn't, by putting in front of the powers the true story of our people. She was the first and most fierce voice we had and we were grateful.


I don't read much of what Ismail says, but what has completely frightened me out of the land I love is when I hear the lack of culture and respect that a serious, intelligent woman like Raqiya Omaar got for serving her country. She left Somalia as a young girl, lived happily without scars yet has chosen to serve her people. When the Somaliland culture fails to protect the dignity of a woman like Raaqiya Omaar from a man who does not understand culture, how can many of us who love home find the courage to come back?


If our heroes and role models are constantly tarnished by men who neither understand culture nor care about the fate of our land, how can we build a good moral society? If our destiny is in the hands of men who do not respect our wishes, how can we become part of rebuilding our country? We need to build our society from the grass roots, if free speech has become a crime, how can we feel secure in our land after so many heroes died for just that?




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