News / Africa

Somalia National Day Celebrated in a Mogadishu Free of Al-Shabab

Women attend a ceremony marking Somalia's independence day in Mogadishu, July 1, 2012.
Women attend a ceremony marking Somalia's independence day in Mogadishu, July 1, 2012.
MOGADISHU, Somalia — For more than two decades, Mogadishu residents have marked Somalia's independence day under the threat of chaos and violence; but this year is different. Due to security gains and the return of relative stability to the Somali capital, citizens finally have something to celebrate.

For twenty-one years anarchy and humanitarian disasters have over-shadowed Somalia’s Independence Day.

The July 1 holiday commemorates the day Somalia declared independence from Italian colonizers, 52 years ago.

This year, Mogadishu residents are breathing in freedom and optimism like never before, following security gains by African Union forces and Somali government fighters against al-Shabab militants.

Ahmed Afi, who works with Direct Aid, a Kuwait-based aid agency, says this Independence Day, he has been able to visit places he could not go to the year before.

“It’s somehow different from previous celebration, because now we are celebrating under more peaceful environment, we have access to markets, to main roads and streets, we can move around whenever we can go," he said. "We can greet our friends, families and relatives.”

Another resident, Hussein Omar, who is supervising the construction of a new hotel along Mogadishu’s Lido Beach, says this year's national day is a double celebration for him.

"The country is now independent from two groups,"  he says, "the colonists and the insurgent group. It feels like this is our actual first independence day."

At the same time last year al-Shabab still controlled some pockets of the city and launched daily attacks against AU troops and Somali government forces.

Now, the al-Qaida linked group has been weakened militarily and financially, and African forces are preparing to move against the group’s last stronghold, the coastal city of Kismayo.

For Afi, the hope for continued peace and stability depends on the country’s future political leaders.

“I and other Somalis today their future depends on the upcoming elections and its results in August 2012," said Afi. "If we will have a good leadership from August we expect to reach the next celebration of July 1st with prosperity, progress and development.”

Somalia has until August 20 to elect a new parliament and president in accordance with a United Nations-backed plan to end a 12 year political transition.

If they are successful, Somalia will have yet another reason to celebrate.

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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 Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
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 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