News / Africa

Defying Danger: Somali Refugees Flock to Journalism School

Roopa Gogineni
With three months remaining in the year, the Committee to Protect Journalists has already declared 2012 as the deadliest year ever for Somali journalists.  Despite the danger, young Somali refugees flock to a journalism school in Eastleigh, an eastern suburb of Nairobi. 

On the eighth floor of the Binali hotel in Nairobi, journalists gather to honor six of their colleagues killed in Mogadishu in just eight days in late September.  

Mohamed Osman, chairman of the Somali Exiled Journalists Association, organized the event.

"No one knows, you know, why we are killed and who is killing the journalists," he said.

Journalists are under threat from al-Shabab militants, rival political factions and general insecurity in a country that has been a lawless conflict zone for 20 years.

Osman fled Mogadishu in 2007 after two of his colleagues at Horn Afrik Media were murdered on the same day.  Now in Nairobi, he says the recent violence reminds him of why he cannot return to Somalia.

"Within two weeks more than five journalists were killed, how could you dare go back to a town where the journalist is a target?  By no means, I don't think so," he said.
 
Despite the risks, journalism is still a popular profession among young Somalis.

Two years ago Osman opened the Al-Imra Institute of Languages and Journalism to train young Somali refugees.

Abdiladiif, 22, is one of Osman’s 30 students.  Born in Mogadishu, he arrived in Nairobi one year ago as a refugee.  Everyday he now attends Kiswahili, English and journalism classes. 

"Journalism is my passion and I have always dreamt about it so I will not stop," he said.  "I believe that whether I am in Somalia or in a safer place, still death will meet me.  So I will still move on.  It is unfortunate that heinous acts of violence are leveled against journalists.  But still I want continue with my studies, the future holds a lot for me.”

Abdiladiif’s brother, working in the U.S., pays his school fees.  The journalism course costs him 1,000 Kenyan shillings every month, or approximately 12 U.S. dollars. 

Many in the class are women, like Fatuma Jam’a, aged 27, who used to work as a radio journalist in Somalia before fleeing to Nairobi.

"If you go back to Somalia, it is not safe for ordinary people, but it's even worse for journalists," she said. "Problems will arise but you need to be bold, somebody has to work there. …You need courage and braveness [bravery], and for me, I want to be the person who goes back." 
 
Most of the Somali journalists murdered this year have been in their 20s and 30s, as younger reporters tend to take bigger risks. 

After completing the yearlong course, both Fatuma and Abdiladiif are willing to return to Somalia to work as journalists.

They understand the risk but believe good journalism can bring peace to their war-torn home.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs