By Dr. Hamdi Mohamed
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars” Khalil Gibran
Change is in the air! No, it is not the vibrancy of rebuilding a country – nor the new buildings, roads, hospitals, schools, and start-ups. It is not the dynamism of creative business class bringing new ideas and innovations. It is not even the political male elites scrambling for power, as we get closer to elections. It is not the coalition of political parties pushing the limits to make space for dissent in a quickly changing political game of newly emerging democratic systems. It is not about the resourceful, organized, and powerful women’s movement trying to subvert a political system that keeps finding new ways to disenfranchise them. All of these are taking place and they are bringing needed social and political transformations.
The change I am referring to is rather the energy of a new generation. They bring new voice, new spirit, and new hope. They are young, risk takers, and poised to give birth to a better future. They inspire us. They make our hearts smile. They are giving us new hope. They give selflessly. They are generous with their time and energy. They are ready and set to be part of homegrown solutions to reconstruction. They are kind and compassionate. They are fearless and fierce. They make gumaysiga nervous. Cadowgu ma jecla! Eebboow noo badbaadi.
They were born in Mogadishu, Hargeysa, Garowe, Djibouti, Nairobi, Abu Dhabi, Minnesota, London, Toronto, and Ottawa, Wellington, and New York. They are coming back. Some never left. They have degrees from Somali National University, Hargeisa University, Puntland State University, and Amoud University. Some graduated from universities in Malaysia, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Kenya, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, United States, Germany, and Canada. They learn languages in Morocco, Cairo, Khartoum, Istanbul, Rome, Paris, and Montreal. They work in Mogadishu, Hargeysa, Garowe, Djibouti, Nairobi, London, Helsinki, Oslo, Minnesota, Toronto, and Ottawa. Nairobi is their “play city”. They live in hotels. They work in their homes. Their offices are their homes.
They speak perfect Somali. Some learned it at home; others learned the language of their parents recently. “Af Somaliga si aad u fiican ayaad ugu hadashaa”, we say to the latter with pride. “You should have seen me few years ago,” they quickly answer with a big smile. They are rooted and have wings at the same time. They dress smartly. They understand the politics of clothing. But it doesn’t intimidate them! They respect their parents. They defer to their elders. But they know it’s their time to step up. They know their history. But they are not burdened by a traumatic and haunting past. We spare them the pain. They are the products of mothers (& fathers) who sacrifice their lives to give them everything and more.
They are not attached to things. They feel at home everywhere. Some have hyphenated identities. Others were always here. They make time to get closer to Allah. They take time for spiritual breaks and go for umrahs. They are able to quote hadiths and ayats to make a point. They can recite full (two three pages) of Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan and Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame Hadraawi poems. They are well versed on western political philosophies. They are comfortable in their skin and unapologetic!
As we bid farewell to the holy month of Ramadan with our hearts full of taqwa, we pray for these young women and men. May Allah protect them. May He continue to make them kuwii dadkooda, dalkooda, iyo diintooda anfaca. May He make us recognize and appreciate their audacity. May He help us nurture their ideas, creativity, and passions. May He give us the grace to get out of their way when necessary. May He give us the patience and wisdom to share stories that teach and guide with them. Most of all may Allah give us the loving heart to nurture them when needed. Aamiin.
Dr. Hamdi Mohamed
Hamdi Mohamed is a social historian with a PhD in Women’s History and an MA in International Diplomacy. She is the author of Gender and the Politics of Nation Building: (Re)Constructing Somali Women’s History and several book and academic journal articles. She lectured widely on issues of international migration, human security, women and politics in Africa and the Middle East, and international development in her over a decade experience of university teaching and delivering keynote speeches in North America, Europe and Africa.
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