28, Sep. 2003
SOMALIA'S SEASON OF DESPAIR
THERE'S ALSO A BRIGHT
SIDE TO IT - PART TWO
M. M. Afrah
MINNEAPOLIS SOMALIS ARE GETTING THEIR ACTS TOGETHER
life can change gradually for many newcomers in North America,
and their old ways of life in the old country came to a grinding
halt. Many changed their names and even their religion. Thus
Dino Martini became Dean Martin and Franco Sinatra became
Frank Sinatra, Marco Giulliano Mark Julian and so on in order
to fit into the mainstream Anglo-Saxon majority in the United
States. But the Somalis try very hard to safeguard their centuries
old religion and way of life come what way, even after the
911 tragedy when Muslims in America became a target of racial
profiling, harassment, finger printing, photographing, interrogation
and detention without trial.
their counterparts, the Somali teenagers, brought to the U.S.
when they were still toddlers, refused to jump on the so-called
trend bandwagon. They shun the wearing of ear-rings, put on
the oversized tent-like pants or braided their hair in keeping
with the Rastafarian craze. Historically, our unmarried girls
were the first in the world to braid their hair. Now, our
boys and girls are top of their classes, and at the sports
arena. Their parents constantly remind them the classical
Somali song "Aqoon la'aani waa Iftiin la'aan."
reprints the following article by Geoffrey Ziezulewicz of
the Minnesota Daily about Somali students' hunger for higher
education in Minnesota:
Ali, a Roosevelt High School student, said she wants to go
to a big college with strong accounting and finance schools.
"But I will not go to Normandale (Community College),"
Ali was one of more than 20 students attending Somali Education
Night on Thursday, an event held to help Somali high school
students navigate the college application process. It is the
event's second year.
Wardere, one of the event's organizers, said the event fulfils
many Somali community needs.
"The target is Somali students in high school and their
parents," Wardere said. He added that energizing and
encouraging high school students to go to college is of the
utmost importance. Also, he said: "It's another good
reason to celebrate."
Numerous local colleges were on hand at the event.
as a community have noticed that the biggest discrimination
in the United States is that of knowledge," he said.
"Everything is determined by how much knowledge you have.
If you have that, you can overcome any kind of problem."
a first-year student at the Minneapolis Community and Technical
College, said he and his high school friends have post-graduate
"We're going to rebuild Somalia," Mohamed said.
"Me and five friends. That's what we want to do."
same paper, Warsame Shirwa, the Editor writes: "Minneapolis
Mayor R.T. Ryback and Police Chief Robert Olson were not available
to answer questions Monday last, questions with respect to
promises made to the Somali community through its leaders
in order to hire uniformed Police officers. Also unresponsive
was to any of Jubaweekly's phone calls to Melissa Chido, in
the Department of Recruitment of City Police Officers.
Minneapolis is considered to have the largest Somali population
in the United States, thus the capital city for Somalis.
can be no excuses for any city in the United States not to
have an inclusive police department," the Editor quotes
Omar Jamal, the Executive Director of the Somali justice Advisory
Center as saying. Omar added: "He is not happy with the
way the city, and particularly the Police Department, is taking
this matter lightly. Funding has not always been the excuse."
also quoted Faysal Omar, the Executive Director of Somali
American Friendship Association as saying: "A good number
of Somalis have filled applications and registered to enroll
to join the Police Academy, but I have not as yet seen a uniformed
Somali police officer."
examples of other cities, such as San Diego in California
and Columbus in Ohio with much less Somali population, and
according to some community leaders, there are two uniformed
and one such officer respectively.
though, all standards of qualifications need to be met, affirmative
action must be met as well, according to the leadership at
the Somali Community," the editor of Jubaweekly emphasized.
language section is also brimming with world news with particular
emphasis on the latest news from Somalia and the rest of the
Horn of Africa with eye-catching titles. It also gives good
coverage on local news of particular interests to the Somali
community, including Islamic Prayer Schedule, advice to readers
and colorful advertisements. Recently it started reprinting
this website's Talking Point with permission from the author
and the Webmaster.
Jubaweekly carried an imposing full-page advertisement with
the photographs of top U.S Government officials that said:
"MEET WITH TOP GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. ASK ANY QUESTION
AND THEY'LL ANSWER."
officials included Deborah Pierce FBI Agent in-charge, Tom
Heffilfinger US Attorney in Minnesota, Curt Aljets Head of
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Mark Cangemi,
Head of Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and
John Klow Head of Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
associations and communities in the State organized the meeting.
who were unable to attend the question & answer meeting
physically, were provided with a direct telephone hotline
number (612) 636-4664 to shoot their lingering questions.
Somali associations and communities in the State of Minnesota
organized the unprecedented crucial meeting.
wonders whether other Somali communities in the Diaspora have
been emulating their countrymen in the United States and were
putting their cases in front of their hosts. Well, it is about
time. A fragmented country is waiting for you to put it together!
By M. M. Afrah©2003,