By WardheerNews Editorial
Imagine you are a twenty year old who lives in a stateless country. Imagine that life around you is chaotic; there are guns and warlords everywhere. Piracy Lords and Al-Shabab mullah Lords are always around to persuade you to join in. Everyone is competing for you to kill for them, loot for them, or detonate yourself alive for their cause. You don’t have any food to eat; your mom, the only parent remaining, is struggling to keep your siblings alive, and so you leave home because you don’t want to be a burden. Now you are wondering the streets, not a morsel of food in your tummy, choices are plenty but they all lead to the same endless destructive road.
The sparse education you have received throughout the war years has kept you chronically illiterate. No one has ever read to you, you have seen books but you could never comprehend what the letters inside spell. And yet the world expects you to be a normal kid when you had nothing but the most abnormal upbringing. Your peers across the world are pursuing their education, some have founded billion Dollar companies; others are on their way to becoming the next generation of leaders. Pondering and dreaming are a daily past time, and so at times you wonder how it all came to pass. You look around and the answer comes back rushing: you are a Somali Youth and this is your reality!
Somali Youth: Still Standing Strong
This was the year young Somalis triumphed. Mo Farah made history by winning two Olympic metals. Zamzam Maxamed and Maxamed Xasan represented their country despite the treacherous life devoid of basic human needs that have surrounded them all their lives. Despite growing up in a place where food is scarce, and malnutrition rules the day, they came to London proud to carry forth the sky blue flag. They were not deterred by their circumstance; they were defiant to show the world that as Somali youth they are generation tomorrow and they are not waiting to be defined by pessimistic headlines or the war that has claimed their entire childhood.
Despite the fact many of the youth growing up in Somalia do not have both parents in their household, for the ones who have, the rate of unemployment in Somalia hovers around 70%. Children do not go to schools because the civil war has resulted in among other things, the breakdown of the educational system. There is plenty of time for Somali youth to dawdle in the streets and engage in delinquent behavior. The lucky ones are those who attend madrassas, which have become more of baby-sitting centers than educational institutions. Somali youth live in an environment where the proliferation of arms and the rate of violent crime are extremely high. In the midst of this dire condition emerged Al Shabab, which was one of the biggest employers.
They were transformed from being unemployed, penniless, illiterate, and aimless to becoming killer machines and perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes in the history of the country. Suicide bombing alone has claimed the lives of many youths. The youths have become both the face of Somalia’s failures and its hope in resurrecting the country. Now that the Al-Shabab group is retreating, many youths have, for the first time, the opportunity to be rescued, re-educated, and re-oriented to become agents of change. They will not be able to do that on their own unless they receive comprehensive educational, social, economic, and religious plans. Winning back our youth is the major task in rebuilding Somalia.
In another front, Somali youth living in refugee camp bring many challenges and the absence of so many amenities that are vital to human life. For over a decade, Somalia has lost hundreds if not thousands of youth to rampant insecurity in ramshackle refugee camps in neighboring countries, virulent diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and communicable diseases such as meningitis and cholera; biting weather, suicide, and a host of preventable life threatening actions that would have been contained had there been peace and serenity in lawless and stateless Somalia.
Regardless of other dangerous conditions such as drowning in high seas while struggling to reach the shores of the Gulf of Aden, forceful conscription by dreaded militia and extremist groups, targeted assassinations, and starvation due to shortage of food, the ordinary Somali youth has emerged a force to reckon with. Whether living in Melbourne, Adelaide, or Sydney in Australia as a refugee, asylee, or self-imposed exile; or in the crime-infested villages of South Africa managing bazaars; or as a citizen in North American cities, Somali youth have shown the world that they have courage, tenacity, and iron will to stand up to the horrors of deprivation, statelessness, extremism, warlordism, and political gerrymandering.
Many Somali youth who were born inside and outside Somali borders have shown the world that they can establish families, become business entrepreneurs, break world records in sports and music, appear in international competitions, seek decent education, and above all become beacons of peace and stability. One such example of Somali youth who astonished the world with his sports acumen is Mo Farah who broke the world record marathon in 5,000 and 10,000 meter races respectively in the recently concluded global sports gathering in London. Then there is K’naan, the doyen of music, who sang his way to become one of the most celebrated musicians of the century. K’naan is a singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist who inspires millions of youth globally with his celebrated songs Troubadour and Waving Flag. In actual fact, Waving Flag was chosen as Coca-Cola’s promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Besides musicians and sports people, Somalis have proud super models whose faces and fashions gleam from television cameras, international fashion magazines, global televisions, fashion displays, and ultra-modern superstores selling make ups and lipstick that are exclusive to them. Then there is Magan Tahir, a man who, despite becoming wheelchair bound after a bomb explosion in his own residence in Mogadishu, took the world by surprise by becoming one of the best table tennis players. When playing table tennis, Magan aims like a marksman, is swift like a racing car, and hits the ball with his racket like a pugilist.
Somali youth are known for their resilience and dedication to causes that advance human dignity and elevate social changes. Zamzam and Mohamed were two Somali youth that represented Somalia in the 2012 Olympics held in London. Even though they did not win medals for their country, they showed the world the significance of courage and survival and that anything can be done if hope is not exhausted.
And so WardheerNews.com is proud to acknowledge Somali Youth whether they are inside of the country still dealing with all the challenges that have marked their young lives, or in the West where they have created their own harmonious identity as kids growing up with two opposing cultures that are polar opposites, or in refugee camps forever looking forward to the day they can claim their lives free from the stigma and harsh life of the camps.
They are making their mark on the world scene as teachers, nurses, engineers, doctors, and lawyers. They are realizing their dreams while giving back to their country. In a world where politics of division dominates our community, WardheerNews wants to halt the divide that exists by appointing our youth, our hope and the generation that will ultimately build our nation and bring all sides together so that Somalia will one day go back to its glory days.
To the young people of Somalia we say thank you for not giving up on your country even though for some of you the idea of Somalia only exists in your mind’s eye. Yet you embrace it, pray for it, and include it in your grand plan of life. You took your challenges and turned it into something positive; for that we are humbled by your humility, we are in awe of your activism, and we are learning from your examples, for you are a united front.
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