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Toronto (Canada)
22 April. 2002


M. M. Afrah

Conformity is a big issue in Somali families in the Diaspora and many parents get stuck in it and try to maintain a lifestyle familiar to the way they were raised in the old country of which discipline, obedience and preservation of their cultural value are the mainstay.

44-year-old Naema Dahir is bewildered when her 14-year-old daughter refused to speak Somali with members of the family or with Somali guests.

"There's nothing, nothing at all you can do about it," said Naema, shaking her head and laughing. "This generation is gone for good!" she added.

"The first time, I felt uneasy," recalls another mother. "You cannot force your own children to speak their own Somali language, at least at home, because teachers at school tell the children to call 911 if their parents became "abusive" or force them to do something they don't want to do," she said with tears in her eyes.

Another bewildered father said that his 12-year-old daughter spends most of her free time listening to "weird" music in her bedroom with other girls and boys from the neighourhood and refuses to eat her dinner. "My own daughter had even "ordered" me to knock her bedroom door every time I wished to see her!" he lamented.

They all said that with little choice in the matter of their children's upbringing, they have had to get used to the idea. Parents who would not take nonsense from their children are regarded as "abusive" and "child molesters" and are taken away from them by the police. In addition the parents could faces charges against them under The Child Protection Program. Ironically, some of these children are then taken to orphanages where pedophile priests sexually assault them! Survivors of Child Abuse by Catholic pedophile priests can attest this claim. It is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

"This is so upsetting. It's not at all what we were expecting," said a teary-eyed grandfather in Toronto. He blames the Television and the Internet for corrupting the Somali children in the Diaspora. "They show explicit sexual scenes and even teach children how to make a bomb," the frail old man moaned.

Of course some parents molest their children for one reason or another. A case in point is the battering to death of 7-year-old Jamaican boy, Randal Dooley, by his father and stepmother. The pair will automatically receive life sentences with no parole eligibility for at least 10 years or up to 25-years, according to the Toronto Star News Service.

What then does the future hold for the Somali children born in the Diaspora? Very bleak and hopeless. Talking to these teenagers makes it even bleaker and uncompromising than ever. 16-year-old Yusuf, who now calls himself Joseph or Joe and wears oversized pants and an ear ring says his parents are old fashioned and out of touch. "I would never allow my mother to visit my school. My classmates will laugh at her because she looks like a potato sack in her shapeless long dirac," he said after a long pull from what looked like hashish.

"But she is your mother who brought you to this world," I reminded him, after reading to him the lyrics in Mohamed Suleiman's song "Hooyo la'antaa dayaxa lama aadeen…."

"That's a folk song that's incompatible with today's trend. It's not cool, man," he snapped back and disappeared among a crowd of students with similar lifestyle.

On this issue, I cannot pretend to be a moralist or traditionalist but could it be that Somalis in the Diaspora do not care anymore about their children? It boggles the mind, but something can be done to educate them.

It is all right for a child to speak English, because that's what they teach at school, but to emulate bizarre habits, like boys wearing ear-rings and oversized pants, for example, boils me with rage.

By M. M. Afrah © 2002

Are you tired of reading distorted stories about Somalia by armchair authors? Order the "SOMALI TRAGEDY," by M. M. Afrah 204 pages with photos and glossary of Somali history.
It is an eyewitness account of the clan warfare and the US/UN military involvement in the Somalia debacle. $US20/ including H&S by airmail.
Mode of payment: International Money Order or through Somali money transfer companies near you. Order the book directly from the Author by sending your email to


Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two decades".

Many of us remember his critical articles in his weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in the country. He received several death threats from the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993. But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still is!


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