mogadishu

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The Bookshelf: New(ish) Books about Somalia

A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg

This is the story of a Somali man who fled the civil war as a child and ended up in South Africa. From the book’s Amazon page:

“Throughout, A Man of Good Hope is a complex, affecting, ultimately hopeful portrait of Asad’s search for salvation, suffused with dreams and desires and a need to leave something permanent on this earth.”

The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding

This is a book about, clearly, the mayor of Mogadishu. I actually met this man at a conference several years ago, while I was working as a translator and sat at his table. I can only imagine what his life looks like in these devastating days after the awful bomb a few weeks ago.

From the Amazon page:

“The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.”

Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

This book compares the lives and adjustments of the Somali communities in Minnesota and in Ohio. As a native Minnesotan, I’ll give you a spoiler: they are more integrated in MN than in Ohio. This is most recently evident in the election of Ilhan Omar to legislature. This book is more academic than the others on this list, but it is well-researched and both informative and challenging.

From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis by Hudda Ibrahim

Speaking of Somalis in Minnesota, how did they come to settle here? I remember going out with young Somali girls when we lived in Minneapolis and my friends wore high heels and thin dresses even in the middle of January, while I stomped around in boots and fluffy winter coats.

I have not had the chance to read this book yet, but am glad to see Somali women producing their own works about their experiences and community in the US.

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar by Reinhard Kleist

This graphic story follows the journey of Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, from Mogadishu to the London Olympic games, across North Africa, and into the sea as she attempts to cross to Europe. Samia is seeking a better life, where she can run and live free. The book highlights the plight of so many refugees trying to cross into Europe.

I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Samia for Running Times and Runners World in 2008, both in Ethiopia and in Djibouti.

What have you been reading lately?

If you are living outside your home country, do you read books by and about the people you now live among? If you don’t – you should!

other Bookshelf posts about Somalia:

Me Against My Brother

About Somalia, by Somalis

*photo by Matt Erickson

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Mogadishu On Fire

 

This is a song my sister wrote a while ago. It is incredibly relevant. “Dogfight” by Stephanie Tamasweet.

I had another post planned for this morning but how I can write or post about anything after what happened in Mogadishu this weekend?

276 dead. And rising.

300 wounded. At the very least. Severely wounded.

The worst terrorist bomb in Somalia’s history.

That’s saying something, in Somalia.

Turkey sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff. Djibouti sent an airplane full of medical supplies and staff, including the Minister for Health. Somali rescue workers are doing an incredible job, they pulled a young man from the rubble, alive, after he was buried more than 40 hours. And yet. For a nation already ravaged by violence, this seems especially devastating. There had been so many signs of Somalia coming back to life. And now what?

To see some of the work being done in Mogadishu, check out these Instagram accounts:

vintage_somalia

aarmaanta

But it isn’t just Somalia. It is among the Rohinga. Where a young woman’s baby is ripped from her arms, tossed into a fire, and while her child burns, she is gang raped. It is Las Vegas. Where couples out for a night on the town are slaughtered from above. Where we are forced to reckon with what we have collectively done to our planet when water comes where it shouldn’t and fires rage without end.

Dear God have mercy. Mercy. Its all I can think. People want to go to school, buy spinach in the market, watch movies, eat watermelon, play football, have access to a hospital, stay in hotels, eat pizza, swim in the ocean. People want to fall in love and give birth and dance at graduation parties and pray in community. People want to go on long runs and gaze up at a starry sky and listen to their grandchildren giggle.

When did we start hating ourselves so much that we decided killing other people could cure our brokenness?

When did someone’s peaceful day become an opportunity for carnage? Someone’s shop/ice cream parlor/bookstore/concert hall/hotel/movie theater/elementary school/dance club a place for horror?

When did fearlessly wielding death become a facade of power and strength?

When did men become gods?

How long must the world remain on fire before the God of mercy hears?

When I first heard the song Dogfight, I sat down on the floor in my bedroom and wept. When I heard what happened in Mogadishu, I listened to it at least five times on repeat. I asked my sister for permission to share it and she bravely said yes.

That’s how we move forward. Bravely. Together. Sharing our gifts and our brokenness and refusing to let hatred have the final word.

Have a listen, if you didn’t already, or maybe again. Have a cry. Pray for mercy.

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