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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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Geopolitics

Why is no one buying modern Chinese fighter jets?

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Not many countries are currently buying Chinese fighter jets because they want a sure thing when they go into combat. China has ambitions to become a major player in the military aviation market. With aircraft like the J-31 stealth fighter, China hopes to provide a lower-cost alternative to the popular US F-35 stealth fighter.

China has made incredible progress but has an uphill battle in challenging the F-35 with the J-31. The US has been designing, testing, manufacturing, and improving stealth fighters for over 40 years and has already built and flown a 6th generation fighter. China is the new kid on the block, and they are quickly overtaking Russia in aviation technology.

China lacks a significant combat and sales record for their aircraft. Although Chinese aircraft are less expensive than western fighters, their combat performance is a question mark and countries with money prefer to buy a fighter that has been mass produced, tested in multiple countries, and is combat tested. China may be the new kid on the block, but they are highly capable and on a fast pace to challenge competitors with advanced technology.

 

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Politics

Kenya presidential candidate promises to hang men who abuse wives

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Roots Party of Kenya presidential candidate George Wajackoyah says his government has ideal plans in place to end gender-based violence.

Should he win the presidency, Wajackoyah said he will introduce the death penalty for men who will be found guilty of abusing their wives.

While campaigning in Kirinyaga, the presidential hopeful said his government will hang men who slap their other halves. Apart from abusive men, the learned politician had initially said he would reintroduce capital punishment for corruption offenders through constitutional review.

During the Sunday, June 12 rally, Wajackoyah, whose campaign slogan is Tingiza Miti literally means to shake the trees, said he will also improve the lives of men in uniform. He noted that he was a policeman before and so he understands their predicament. Should he win the presidency, he promised to buy each policeman a car and house so that they do not solicit bribes from people. He also pledged to improve their salaries. The 61-year-old academician said his main aim will be to ensure people have money in their pockets and are happy.

 

 

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Politics

A weed-loving professor is seeking Kenya’s presidency

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Presidential aspirant George Luchiri Wajackoyah, 61, has kicked off his Campaigns on a ‘high’ note promising corrupt judicial officers that he will hang them.

Besides relocating the capital city from Nairobi to North Eastern region, the Roots Party aspirant said he will also suspend the constitution for six months so as to launch a conversation with Kenyans on how to entrench the death penalty in the laws of the land as well as legalise industrial marijuana.

“Judiciary is one of the biggest stumbling block in realising aspirations of a prosperous nation. I will adopt a style whereby if you suspect yourself to be corrupt, we encourage you to kill yourself or if we try you and you are convicted, you be killed,” he said.

He said the ideality of moving the capital to say, Isiolo will open up the northern frontiers as administrative capital, freeing Nairobi to be an industrial hub.

Saying “I am not all that stupid,” Wajackoyah dismissed the motion that he is a joker and a nuisance contestant, saying that “those discriminatory traits are so irking.”

He took issue with the Infotrak pollster results released on Wednesday showing his competitors– Raila Odinga and Dr William Ruto– as the only serious candidates, ignoring him and Mwaure Waihiga by according them no rating.

Wajackoyah, who was accompanied on Citizen TV by his 35 year old running mate–Justina Wangui Wamae said on July 2, they will be releasing their 12-point manifesto to drive their state house bid.

She said she does not smoke bhang “despite our ticket being widely accused of exhibiting signs of its users.”

Mr Wajackoyah says introducing industrial hemp will help pay off the debt.

In an interview on Wednesday night on Citizen TV, Mr Wajackoyah argued that if Kenyans are allowed to grow bhang for export, that would likely increase money circulation in the economy, claiming that a sack can be sold for $3.2 million.

“The solution is growing marijuana, which will enable this country to [pay its] outstanding debts. Have enough money, have enough money for all Kenyans. And if one sack of marijuana is $3.2 million, if you convert that into Kenyan currencies, it is a lot,” he said.

He said there should be no worries about finding a market for the marijuana.

“We are going to export it, not import it. We’re going to grow it and export it. I’m just back from the United States and Canada during my research and trust me, there are so many companies … telling me please we have the market ready here in Canada,” he said.

He said marijuana, which he claimed he has never smoked, remains the country’s gold that needs to be exploited to catalyse the nation’s economic growth.

Mr Wajackoyah also said farming snakes will help supply venom for the manufacture of medicines and for export.

“A lot of people are bitten by snakes in this country and we have to wait for snake doses from outside the country through pharmaceutical corporations,” he said, adding that one way of paying off the national debt “more so those of Chinese is by extracting snake venoms for them”.

e Kenyans free medical services. We are also going to create more employment opportunities,” she said.

Citing countries without written constitutions, Mr Wajackoyah took a jab at the Judiciary, saying that it is the biggest impediment in Kenya’s democratic growth.

“We have countries like Israel, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom which don’t have written constitutions. They welcome conventions,” he said.

 

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