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Toronto (Canada)

06, FEB. 2003

Email: afrah95@hotmail.com
M. M. Afrah

Since I posted Part One of Coming to America, Some Home Truths on this Website I received a number of emails from former colleagues and friends scattered all over the Continents.

I am glad to know that they are still very much alive and kicking after the painful process of adjusting themselves to their new environments.

One former colleague sent these two-line gabay:

"There will always be a Somalia.
And Somalia shall be free."

Glowing optimism!

His idea of nation-building and combating tribalism is to create jobs for those gun-toting kids, but nobody likes the word "nation-building." We've already crossed the Rubicon", he said.

Another said, "If the petty politicians in Eldoret continue playing political football, the country, or what was left of it, would fall over the cliff, then you can kiss goodbye to a country once called Somalia," he concluded.

Another email from someone in my adopted country wondered how I was faring in North America. Thanks a lot, Yusuf. I am glad to find myself where food is food (even though it is genetically modified and the water I am drinking is recycled), the lights go on at night, and guns don't go off. And, of course, I don't have to look over my shoulders any more.

"You have never mentioned in your TALKING POINTS about Somaliland going solo. WHY?" asks someone I presume to be a Somalilander in the Diaspora? Well, the answer is: "I do not fancy going into war of words with people who wish to separate themselves from the rest of the Somali Peninsula."

Article 21 (3) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly states that: "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government. This will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote by equivalent free voting procedures."

However, the UN Declaration, the African Union Charter (formerly OAU), and the Arab League do not mention the right to secede for obvious reasons.

Ironically, the West, with the blessing of the UN Security Council, supported and recognized the secession of East Timor (a former Portuguese colony) from Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country. And the Balkans has fallen apart. The Czechs and the Slovaks went their separate ways.

Personally, I believe that it is up to the people of Northwest to decide what is best for their part of the Somali Peninsula with unanimity and without the menace of the gun culture.

Others think differently.

I also believe that the Southerners and the South westerners should put the gun down and put their houses in order before talking anything else.

A newcomer wanted to know how to make better decisions in North America. Simple: establish friendship, learn the English language by attending ESL (English as a Second Language schools), how to deal with emergencies, avoid scams, look for work effectively, apply to colleges and learn to fit in and understand the American and Canadian ways of life, history and geography. All this would eventually help your application for citizenship. Guess what? You can still retain your nationality and religion. Also you must learn about money, investment, taxes and social security and how to cope with depression and other health conditions to create a satisfying new life in your adopted country.

One reminder: The chance of holding a managerial position or even white color job is very slim, bringing to mind the Bangladeshi physician who was compelled to drive a taxi in Metro Toronto because he did not have what the Canadian employers euphemistically call "The Canadian Experience."

Most Canadians and their American cousins like the newcomers, or at least felt sorry for them, recalling stories told and retold by their ancestors about the appalling conditions and the xenophobia they faced on arrival in the "New World." Today the stumbling blocks are the overzealous bureaucrats who make a hash of things. They consider as security risk anyone who looks different. But many newspaper editorial writers smirk at the new immigration and refugee laws. The Los Angeles Times calls it as witch-hunt reminiscent to the Red Scare during the McCarthy era and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two, in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbour.

No cause for alarm, because the U.S. justice system is still colour and status blind. Federal Judge Donovan Frank of St. Paul told the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) it cannot deport Abdullahi Ahmed Farah to Somalia, and ruled that the INS must release the 33-year-old Somali from Minneapolis.

Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Advocacy Center said he was pleased with Abdullahi's release, but said he was troubled about Somalis still in custody.
"We are concerned about humans treated as cattle, being transferred from one state to another, keeping them in limbo," Jamal said.

We must be proud of Jamal's outspokenness and charisma. And it's the sort of pioneering news the Somalis in North America and elsewhere want to hear. Two thumbs up, Jamal! You are our own Martin Luther King Jr.

Personally, I've learnt a lot since coming to North America. It was worth the effort and I think I am beginning to love North America despite the heated brouhaha against immigrants and refugees with Muslim sounding names.

Don't be a stranger in a strange country. See the good things in life.

M.M. Afrah 2003
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com


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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