News / Africa

Building a New Somalia: The Diaspora Experience

FILE - Somali artist Affey with his painting 'Empty Suit', representing diaspora politicians.
FILE - Somali artist Affey with his painting 'Empty Suit', representing diaspora politicians.
Gabe Joselow
— There is great hope and optimism in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, for those residents who lived through years of war.
 
In a gallery at the Center for Research and Dialogue in Mogadishu, Somali artist Adan Farah Affey stands in front of one of his paintings. It is called “Empty Suit” and depicts a business suit without a body that he says represents politicians from the diaspora.
 
“The first politicians that came to the country… the ones who got into politics, not business, were those that experienced hard times abroad and came here wanting to make quick money,” said Affey.
 
Affey has lived in Mogadishu his entire life.  He took his painting underground during more than 20 years of conflict.
 
Now that the city is experiencing a relative period of peace following the removal of al-Shabab militants in 2011, he finally has the chance to express himself more openly and has been observing the return of the Somali diaspora seeking opportunity in Mogadishu.
 
He says despite some of the negative impact, returning Somalis have also done some good.
 
“Apart from the money they bring in,” he said, “they have brought creativity from different parts of the world, they will change many things in this country.  So many different businesses are being created.”
 
While many members of the Somali diaspora see Mogadishu as a blank canvas for business and innovation, local Somalis have a different experience of the city that has been shaped by years of war.
 
Jamal Abdirahman is a youth activist in the capital and a life-long Mogadishu resident.
 
“Many people died without reason, and that created many problems, like some people lost their loved ones, some people lost their hope and some people fled from their country to become refugees in other countries.  And now we see hope in the near future,” said Abdirahman.
 
But the city has also changed. After years of rule by an administration of Islamic courts, and the subsequent takeover by the Islamist al-Shabab militants, Mogadishu has become a very conservative town.
 
The culture clash with “westernized” Somalis remains a source of tension.
 
Khadija Ali, who has just returned to Mogadishu after 27 years in Canada, finds it a very different city from what she used to know. More women wear headscarves and full burkas, a change from the more liberal era of the 1970s and 1980s.
 
“People are more religious now, people are more conservative than it was before.  And I can understand, in my culture as a religion, when we encounter difficulties, we go to God,” said Ali.
 
Despite the culture shock, Ali, who worked as a doctor in Toronto, hopes to get involved in improving health services in Mogadishu.
 
Like many in the capital, she has big plans to help rebuild a city and a country still fragile from years of conflict.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid