Arrival in Mogadishu

Arrival in Mogadishu – 22/11/2010

I arrived in Mogadishu on 22nd November 2010 after more than 20 years of living abroad.

At arrival, I feel a mixture of things…I have so many feelings. It’s hard to put them down on paper. I’m extremely sad, angry and disappointed. I wonder why my people choose to fight for 20 years when the colour of our skin doesn’t differ, when we speak the same language, have the same religion and the same background . I wonder why no solution has been found so far. On the other hand, I feel a bit of joy, I’m home after so many years of absence. I finally understand the saying ‘east, west, home is best’. Finally, I am back home.

Mogadishu lies in ruins. We travelled on the main road (mecca al mukaramah) from Mogadishu Airport to Villa Somalia. I can hardly recognize the place. My God, this is like taking a 20 year journey back in time. My memories are of a city that was built, beautiful and safe. We had the ability to travel through the city with no fear. Now during the day stray bullets can kill you at any time. During the night as I go to bed in Villa Somalia I sleep to the sound of heavy artillery in the background, the sound which has become the normal lullaby of Somalia.  Is this the end of Mogadishu? Could it ever be restored to its old beauty or built better?

As I travel through the city my heart breaks. The men have either perished in the war or are still busy fighting. The burden of providing for the family falls to the women. I see women selling tea on the streets and these are the fortunate one. I see women begging with children. I see orphans aimlessly wandering around with hardly any clothing or shoes. If only there was some kind of peace, these people could work their way out of this poverty.

After a few days in Mogadishu, the destruction of buildings doesn’t bother me too much. It’s become a sight my eyes have adjusted to. I realize these things can be rebuilt with relative ease. I become aware of a different kind of destruction in Mogadishu. The destruction of the Somali individual. The Somali individual is destroyed socially, economically and morally. I wonder how long it will take to rebuild an individual. The Somali youngsters aged 15 -35 were either born during the war or grew up during the war. They have never seen any kind of government regulating system. How do you explain peace to such individuals? How do you teach them a governance system?

My role as a Minister of Womens Affairs and Family welfare is such a challenge. How can I deal with these families that grew up in a crisis. How can I provide opportunities for them to have a life? How can I build the capacities of these individuals…So many questions that are in need of urgent answers…I put my trust in Allah and I pray He guides me to what is best.

As every day progresses I live with the following Aya ”And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Messenger and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did. (Sura Tawbah: 105)”.  I will do my best and will leave the rest to Allah. If all Somalis worked by this Aya and just did their best, surely there would be some hope for our country.

More to follow from Mogadishu.




About Maryam Qasim

I am a medical doctor and a humanitarian activist. I have worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist, which is my specialty as well as a University lecturer. I also obtained a Masters in Public Health from Warwick University. During my time in the diaspora, I worked on empowering women and raising the achievements of Somali children. I worked with local schools/authorities as well as presenting at national and international conferences dealing with family matters. I am very active in the Islamic field, giving Islamic lectures at Masjid’s, conferences, universities and summer campings. I served as the minister for Women’s Development and Family Affairs in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (2010-2011). I am currently the chair person of Tayo party which is a political party striving for equality and justice.
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