TheStory, a program produced by American Public Media, has an ongoing series called Messages From Mogadishu. The series features a young English teacher in Mogadishu, known to the program as Abdi (although for security reasons that is actually not his real name), and he talks about aspects of his daily life. He taught himself English from watching American films, and his anecdotes really do give an amazing look into his life in Somalia. This series is a bit depressing — life in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, is tenuous — but it’s completely worth listening. As the traditional media continues to focus on Egypt and Libya, it’s important to remember that there are other places with conflict; Somalia has been without a government, embroiled in tribal and civil war, for twenty years.
You can listen to the stories by following the link above, or I will include them below, in chronological order.
- “Meeting Abdi” (mp3) 23 Nov 2009
- “An Explosion and a Protest” (mp3) 11 Dec 2009
- “A Visit to the Camp” (mp3) 18 Mar 2010
- “A Loss in the Family” (mp3) 14 June 2010
- “Avoiding the Recruiters” (mp3) 09 Aug 2010
- “Surviving Mogadishu” (mp3) 29 Nov 2010
- “No Revolution” (mp3) 16 Feb 2011
I am waiting anxiously to hear Abdi’s next update, as Somali and UN forces have retaken a majority of Mogadishu from Al Shabab hands, which comes after Al Shabab seized the capital from warlords in 2006.
I’ve also embedded a K’naan track, Somalia. K’naan, a Somalian poet and hip hop artist, was my exclusively musical accompaniment when traveling West Africa, which I am quite glad for, as now his music conjures sweet memories of red dirt, thatched roofs, and open air markets. If you’re not familiar with his work, give the video a listen and checkout some of his other stuff on YouTube.