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Why Somalia is eliminating its best

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As stability returns after three decades of anarchy, Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, is becoming a magnet, attracting the country’s diaspora to invest and to help out those who stayed behind.

The country’s diaspora is coming back to make a difference and take advantage of what Mogadishu and the rest of the country have to offer, bringing in expertise and creativity, and innovative ideas.

They have come back to advance women’s rights agenda, start businesses to rebuild a shuttered economy, set-up civil society institutions to teach civilians on the dangers of joining radicalised and terrorism groups and the importance of public institutions and to put the government on check.

But not everyone likes them. They became targets of al Shabab and ‘unknown gunmen’ because they are disrupting the old ways of doing things. Al-Shabab, which is fighting to topple the Somali government, does not like them and its reaction is deadly.

The group accuses the diaspora returnees of importing Western culture to erode the Somali society. The group targets hotels in the capital where the returnees reside.

Most of Somalia’s businesses are managed unprofessionally by people with no or less knowledge, and some are owned by warlords or politicians. When the Somalis from the diaspora with university education and exposure returned, they disrupted everything; they brought in new innovations and new ideas. Some returned to help and advise the government in different fields, taking key positions in the federal and state governments.

This week, Almas Elman, a Somali-Canadian peace activist, was shot dead in Mogadishu, inside the heavily-fortified Halane Camp, near the international airport. She was driving to the airport after attending a meeting at the Elman Peace Centre.

Almas, a former diplomat, becomes the latest member of Somalia’s diaspora to be killed after returning home to help rebuild the country after decades of conflict.

Almas’ family founded a prominent peace centre in Somalia in the 1990s, and her sister Ilwad Elman was a nominee for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The rest of Alma’s family had returned to Somalia in recent years to help run the peace centre working to end the violence. Their work includes a programme called ‘Drop the Gun, Pick Up the Pen’ that encourages child soldiers conscripted by militia gunmen to return to peace.

Hodan Nalayeh, another Somali-Canadian and a journalist returned to Somalia to tell positive stories—the she was killed. Hodan shaped a new Somali narrative.

At least 26 people have been killed and more others wounded when al-Shabab gunmen struck a hotel in southern Somali city of Kismayu on Friday, July 12.

The attack began with a suicide bomb ramming a car laden with explosives into the main entrance of Asasey Hotel followed by gunfire. Politicians, government officials and the diaspora Somalis visiting the city frequent the hotel.

Those killed include journalist Hodan Nalayeh and her husband Farid Jama. Nalayeh recently returned from Canada to tell positive and inspiring stories about Somalia.

Hodan was born in Las Anod in northern Somalia in 1976, but lived most of her life in Alberta and Toronto, after her family move to Canada in the 1980s.

In 2014, Nalayeh founded Integration TV, the first English language online TV, where she shared positive, uplifting and inspiring stories among the Somali people. She wanted to change the international media narrative on Somalia, which mainly focused on war, poverty and piracy.

Hodan travelled across Somalia as well as the world to promote the Somali culture and art and tell success stories in Somalia and its diaspora. She focused on ordinary Somalis doing extra ordinary things in the fields of business, technology, art and culture, among others.

“Our stories are not that are not about suffering are valid and should be told more often. We are more than our pain. We are living and thriving,” one of her tweets said.

A day before the horrific attack on the Asasey Hotel took her life; Nalayeh spent the day in the Island of Ilsi near Kismayu, meeting and documenting the lives of a local fishing community.

“The island of Ilsi is an hour away from Kismayu and only local fishermen live there. It is so clean and breathtaking. A perfect place for a day swim with the family. Somalia,” she tweeted.

Although minor security incidences have been recorded, Kismayu has been relatively peaceful since 2012 when Somali forces backed by Kenyan troops forced al-Shabab militants out of the city.

Hodan was among a large number of Somalis who returned to the country in the recent past after realisation of relative stability to set up businesses and innovation centres and to help rebuild their country devastated by a three-decade-long unrest, and disrupted everything with new ideas and innovations. Most of the diaspora community who returned to the country did so after al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011.

In August of last year, gunmen shot and dead Mohamed Ali , the first person to open a flour shop and a drycleaner in Mogadishu.

Mohamed opened the first dry cleaning shop in Mogadishu in 2012 and set up the city’s first and only flower shop. He also started Start-up Grind, a Google-sponsored global independent start-up community that nurtures start-ups in more than 150 countries. The local media described him as “the face of young entrepreneurs.”

Most members of the Somali diaspora community began returning in 2012 – a year after al-Shabab was driven out of Mogadishu.

The returnees are not fully appreciated; they accused of stealing jobs from the ‘locals’ – those who remained behind after the civil war and never left the country. They are paid more than the locals for the same work done. Because of these and other factors, the diaspora Somalis continue to be targeted by those who do not want change.

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Politics

Joho wants to be Raila’s running mate

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Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is demanding to be picked as Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate in this year’s presidential election to return a favour to him and the Coastal people who have been supporting the ODM leader for close to two decades.

Governor Joho, who is also the ODM deputy party leader and who dropped his bid to contest as the party’s flagbearer in the August 2022 General Election in favour of Mr Odinga, is now asking the party to pick him as a running mate in the coming elections.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

Mr Odinga is yet to name his preferred running mate.

Mr Joho is eying a national leadership position after ending his final term as governor.

In September last year, Mr Joho dropped his presidential bid in favour of his party leader after he was promised an influential Cabinet position.

He says he is ready to retire from local politics to join the national arena.

While giving his New Year message, the Mombasa governor said he will contest for the presidency in the 2027 General Election.

“This time around I am not on the ballot but I am drumming up support for Mr Odinga. But 2027 will be my year; I will vie for the top seat. Were it not for my people’s support I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I give you thanks. I love my people so much,” he said.

He added, “I will not be here after the polls, but I don’t take it for granted that for the 10 years I have been at the helm, you have been with me wholeheartedly, supporting and loving me. I love you very much Mombasa people.”

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Somali premier forms committee to investigate ‘attempted coup’

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Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has appointed a special committee to investigate his attempted suspension by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, local media report.

On Monday, Farmaajo suspended Roble from his duties as he was under investigation for suspected corruption.

The prime minister’s office called the decision a “failed coup d’etat” and Roble accused the president of trying to sabotage upcoming elections to remain in office and urged the armed forces to report directly to the government.

The committee includes close allies of the prime minister, such as the ministers of defense, security, education and public works.

Earlier this week, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the Somali authorities to engage in dialogue to find ways of ending the political crisis in the country.

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Politics

I am not power hungry, says Raila

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ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he is looking for political fame and power to benefit himself.

Raila said his only aim is to uproot the corrupted system of governance and establish a strong foundation for socioeconomic and political growth for country.

“I don’t dream of staying in power forever but I want to live good leadership for the future generation to come,” he said.

Raila said he is energy is projected towards improving the lives of the citizens by eradicating poverty through proper education, a health system and a platform for massive investments.

The ODM leader said it is a pity that many years have passed yet illiteracy, poverty and diseases are still an issue of concern despite having plenty of resources to exterminate them.

He said the time has come for Kenya to devise new ways of tapping investments and creating employment opportunities for the benefit of every citizen and not a few individuals.

Raila said he wants to increase food and nutrition security by setting up improved water and agricultural projects.

He told locals to reject wheelbarrows and choose a government that will ensure enough and respectable jobs are provided.

“Don’t be told that Kazi Ni Kazi, we want you to have good employment, not just a job,” he said.

Raila said he will ensure that each Kenyan has access to cheap and affordable healthcare services.

He spoke on Wednesday spoke at Matuga Girls’ High School in Kwale county during his Azimio La Umoja popularization campaign.

Raila promised the locals that he will improve the fishing systems and set industries for processing and value addition for the fish produced locally.

He said Kwale has vast resources lying dormant that have not yet been fully exploited.

The ODM boss said with the right leadership the unstable economy can be resuscitated and stabilized.

Raila said he will address the prolonged Kwale water shortages and capacitate local farmers to produce enough food.

He said countries like Namibia, Brazil and Egypt are doing great because they have better development plans and Kenya is no exception.

Raila assured locals that his dream is valid and applicable if only given an opportunity.

He warned citizens against being bought on cheap money and remain strong to realize their dreams of making Kenya a better place.

Raila also cautioned locals to shun tribal politics and embrace peaceful coexistence.

He said Kenyans must live together as one and appreciate all gender for the country’s prosperity.

“Let’s not alienate ourselves on tribal, religious or gender,” he said.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said Raila was the leader Kenya is longing to have.

He said Raila is loyal and focused and the solution to the country’s many problems.

“Leadership is not about chest-thumping and Raila is not like that, with him Kenya is in the right place,” he said.

Kenneth urged locals to vet leaders before blindly electing them to power.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said Raila’s agendas reflect the needs of the Kwale residents.

He warned locals against choosing unproductive and visionless leaders whose main agenda are empty talks.

In the morning Raila had a closed-door meeting with ODM grassroots leaders and welcomed new members to the party in Diani.

The ODM team officialy welcomed former Kinango MP Gonzi Rai in the party.

Source: The Frontier and The Star.

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