I was feeling depressed by the outcome of the political wrangling between the Somali president and his PM. I hope the new PM will be selected in a transparent manner and will be qualified to do the job. For how long must we put up with these constant changes in leadership?

To uplift my spirits, I decided to dig up my old archives and came upon this gem. This is an old classic song that was composed by Abdulkadir Hersi Yamyam (May he rest in peace). One of the things that Said Barre will be missed for was his nationalism which he strove to inculcate in the masses through songs, poetry and drama. I just adore this song and the uplifting words. How the mighty have fallen: from a proud nation to one of scattered beggars. Nevertheless, I am still optimistic and pray for a peaceful Somalia. Somalia, lifted up and held by women, will one day get back on its feet. 

I share names with equality
A mortal I do not allow
That he surpass me
And allusive words and hints
I confer not on anyone as gifts
I am Somali

Though impoverished I am
Yet my hardships I endure
And my palms I do not extend
A man with whom I am friends
With my enemy I do not rival
I am Somali

I am in a quest for peace
And from enmity I am terrified
But [from the battlefield] I flee not
And the man who brings wounds
From his hands I await not [I launch assault]
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

To whom my ways do not appeal
As he wishes I do not comply with
Like some parts of the world
Coercion I do not accept
Nor do I carry any man’s shoes
I am Somali

O’ you who is wealthier than I
Your offerings for name’s sake
Know that I expect them not
Say not, too, persuade the ignorant
For I have not a conscious that sleeps
I am Somali

Neither man’s stroking of my head
Nor his lace on my legs [duplicity] do I accept
Persuasion I do not approve
As for secrets [about me] I say
A Saab [vessel] that hold no water
I am Somali

I am of a step with the wind
And on impulse I do not act
I am like fangs of poison [when provoked]
And at times, the bearer of good [when dealt with peace]
I am swathed in patience
I am Somali

A man who endangers me lives not in peace
And there isn’t a man who did wait for me
Gratitude I have not yet abandoned
Nor do I support not any transgression
And a wronged man I compare not with others
I am Somali

I am like Saan [hide] split into two
That still bears the credentials
Some men once disintegrated me
Whilst I tended to my flocks
[But] the obligation of unity I [still] carry
I am Somali

(Source: this is a classic Somali song called Somali Baan Ahay. The English translation is attributable to Shafi Said at http://shafisaid.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/i-am-somali/)


Meet the Somalis

The Open Society has published a serious of narratives on Somalis in Europe (below). Whereas other Somalis in Europe seem to have reached self-actualization, sadly the ones in Finland are still grappling with obtaining the basic necessities of life. Jamilah’s story resonated the most with me. I could see myself in her story, especially about the part where she started wearing hijab as a result of being discriminated against. When things get so miserable, she leaves Finland only to realizes that Finland is home. There is no going back. The other thing that caught my eye is the disparity in the level of integration. Somalis in Norway, the UK, Sweden and Denmark are doing better than the ones in Finland and Holland. 

Meet the Somalis is a collection of 14 illustrated stories depicting the real life experiences of Somalis in seven cities in Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Leicester, London, Malmo, and Oslo. The stories allow readers a unique insight into what everyday life is like as a Somali in Europe. Meet the Somalis is based on the firsthand testimonies of Somalis in Europe interviewed during six months in 2013.

The Somali community in Europe is a vibrant, diverse minority group, including people of Somali origin born in Europe, Somali refugees and asylum seekers, and Somalis who have migrated from one country in Europe to another. There are no accurate figures for the number of Somalis in Europe, but on the whole they are among one of the largest minority groups.

The illustrated stories focus on challenges faced by Somalis in their respective cities in Europe and issues raised in the Somalis in European Cities research, including education, housing, the media, employment, political participation, and identity.

Meet the Somalis depicts experiences many of us will never know, like fleeing a warzone with your children or, worse, leaving your loved ones behind. But more often, these stories portray the values shared amongst many of us, like the importance of family, well-being, and identity in an ever-changing world.

Stay tuned: Meet the Somalis will be translated into other languages soon.