in North America and possibly in Western Europe are enraged
to see their children talking back to them in a fowl language,
like the 12 year old boy who told his father: "Daddy, you're
lying, and I don't care what you and mother say!"
06, Oct. 2004
BORN IN THE DIASPORA
PARENTS STILL OPTIMISTIC
M. M. Afrah
email Omar Abdi Jama in Dayton, Ohio in the United States
said: "I worked hard to provide the boy with nice home,
good education and cash for the latest kids fashion and video
games, but I'm pretty much at my wits end. I feel very sad
and empty. I wish I understood where I went wrong.."
Omar, you are not alone in your predicaments. Many Somali
parents are facing similar sticky situation and there's nothing
much one can do about it. It has been proven by some parents
that a gentle persuasion could make a lot of difference.
like Omar had hoped the children, apart from learning how
to speak another language, but also
learn the subtleties
of another culture, while at the same holding on to their
own language and cultural heritage. This seems to elude the
children born abroad, as many of them wrongly believe that
they are being cosseted by their parents with something they
remotely be bothered with. Such as their mother tongue, family
value, Somali life style and our cultural legacy
access to education, health and security was the primary concern
for most Somali refugees after fleeing the smoking rubble
of their cities and towns. Now many voiced concern over the
sudden cultural changes that befallen on their siblings, putting
their future in danger of assimilation. Simply put, many parents
confessed that their kids' identities as Somalis are in danger
of fading away, similar to earlier immigrants and refugees
who landed at Ellis Island. I don't agree with everything.
there are many things to worry about when you are a parent
or grandparent in North America, Western Europe, Australia
and New Zealand. You lay awake at night, visions of your children
and grandchildren (mostly boys) wearing earrings, oversized
pants (size XXL) and a large chain around their necks dancing
in your head.
is the story of a father who took his twin daughters and son
to Hargeisa during the summer school vacation so that they
could familiarize themselves with the Somali way of life and
to learn how to speak the Somali language properly. Did it
work? Yes, it did, but at a cost. Would he recommend it to
anyone? I have my doubts. A colleague of mine, in the writing
business quoting a line from the Jerry McGuire movie said:
"Show me the money, I'll do it before you know it!"
sense to me, that's if one can afford the price tag involved.
to parents I spoke to complain that the biggest problems are
the boys who run wild in the house with toy machineguns smashing
everything in their path, including the family TV set, lamps
and windows. Trying to talk to them is like explaining American
baseball game to a Somali camel herder!
to tell a 12-year-old boy yes to the good thing and no to
the bad thing. Bewildered parents attempt to retain some of
the original concept of humility and the simple family life,
but the youngsters continue to shake off the old ways, accusing
their parents of leading "outdated" lifestyle.
many of us are still optimistic about our children and grandchildren.
For example, one of my grandchildren, 11 year-old Mohamed
in Minneapolis, (Minnesota) began to show keen interest in
the Somali situation at an earlier age and as a result, frequently
asks questions about his roots. One day he surprised me by
wearing a custom-made T-shirt bearing the Somali flag with
the words: "WHATEVER HAPPENS, SOMALIA IS STILL MY
COUNTRY." And that's not all. He had ordered similar
custom-made T-Shirt for me as well!
say the major point of contention is the lack of evening classes
to teach the youngsters the rudiments of the Somali language
and way of life. If one is looking for proof that you can
teach your offspring their mother tongue, then look no further
than the Chinese community in North America where Mandarin
is being taught to children born outside China. Encouraged
by the success, other Chinese communities in Western Europe,
Australia and New Zealand has been spreading similar classrooms
As a result
Mandarin has been placed among the top non-English language
in those countries. Typically, Chinese children are encouraged
to speak their mother tongue with their parents at home and
with each other at playgrounds.
even Mandarin Chinese Online, which contains characters, sound
clips and pronunciation that's becoming popular among non-Chinese.
is nothing wrong about teaching your kids their mother tongue.
The idea is to pool resources in groups of ten or twenty to
open their first classroom. One important aspect is that physical
proximity is a deciding factor for many families, so children
can confidently reach the location on a regular basis without
requiring transportation. Neighbourhood survey is another
key factor during this period. Community leaders and activists
need to know the number of families with children in the neighbourhood.
given a piece of advice long time ago after my first book
was turned down by big-name publishers and I'll pass it along
to those willing to teach their children the fundamentals
of the Somalia language: Don't give it up and do business
with other "visible" minorities, and love the rest.
sight of Somalia's revival (for good or for worse) looming
ahead in the horizon parents should encourage to double their
children's efforts. Your role as parent is paramount, and
never forget the fact that kids who participate in sports
tend to have higher self-esteem, better academic performance,
less involvement with undesirable behaviour, and more community
of yours should end up a junkie, drug addict, as the people
here in North America calls them.
CLOSE TO HOME
in Nairobi, the warlords-cum-war-criminals promised to respect
and stick on to the new constitution, but what's promise from
thugs and war criminals? They're different from the rest of
the participants. They own private airstrips where the narcotic
Qaad and cigarettes are unloaded every 24 hours, real estate
properties and farms whose owners fled the country during
the outbreak of the civil war. They fly in and out of the
country, deposit their money in overseas banks (on numbered
accounts) and spend few days in the country checking their
looted real estates and farms. They keep to themselves, when
they're not at each other's throat.
them are middle-aged men and if they lived to be 100, they
would never have a shot at this kind of money and property.
As a result, they worked single-mindedly to wreck the chain
of the so-called peace talks from day one.
they can get away with it before the table is turned on them.
They knew human rights organizations at home and abroad have
been compiled damning record of staggering catalogue of atrocities
against the civilian population, Interhamwe-style. They massacred
unarmed civilians, which amounts to genocide. As a matter
of fact, officials at Amnesty International had been frothing
at the mouth to pull the rug under the key warlords since
the beginning of the Kenya talks. And by the time the talks
are over they would have all the evidence they needed to satisfy
a war crimes tribunal to destroy those who committed crimes
against humanity, politically, for all times to come. Many
of them stubbornly believed they would hold key ministerial
portfolios, or even the office of the presidency in the new
clan-based government. If that happens it would be another
disaster in the making, worse than what we had witnessed during
the last 14 years or so-Death, Doom and Destruction.
think it had a prayer of working, but I am convinced Amnesty
International and other human rights organizations, including
the local NGOs, meant what they said in their bold reports
The local human rights groups, like Ismail Jumaleh and Elman,
in particular, had been right on the cutting edge of everything
the warlords did and are still doing, had a lot of work to
do-work that no one else in the world could do for them.
news is that the new MPs have elected a man with "clean"
track record. Congratulations, Sharif! You don't have to be
a politician, because it is a known fact that politicians
are dishonest and wheeler-dealers who play dirty games for
their own vested interests.
still toying with the maddening question whether Amnesty,
like the UN Weapons Monitors in Somalia, continue to dilly-dally
and turn out to be superficial smiling people who failed to
accomplish their mission. Apparently, they've been chasing
straws in the wind.
the warlords fought not foreign army of invaders, but their
own people. They're traitors to their people, the lowest form
of scum bugs.
for you is whether a leopard can change its spots.