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Toronto (Canada)

12th November 2001

M. M. Afrah received the following letter of thanks from our regular commentator and editorial writer to admirers of his articles and extracts from his book FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY. Toronto (Canada) November 2001

Dear readers and visitors to, after deliberating with myself whether to send an individual email of thanks, I finally decided to send you this collective letter of thanks.The number of your emails in my inbox is staggering and it would probably take me months to answer you individually.

Indeed, your emails gave me an oxygen of life that would enable me to keep the ball of truth rolling and rolling until we achieve our desired goal of justice, freedom from hunger, fear, oppression and injustice in our own country. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. Rest assured. We shall prevail.

This gives me the verve to quote Nelson Mandela, SON OF AFRICA, FATHER OF A NATION AND WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, who said during his trial in the 1960s, with his electric smile:

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. It is an ideal, which I hope for and cherish. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

After Mr. Mandela was released and elected as the first Black President in apartheid South Africa, journalists asked if he had a rancor against the white racists who sent him to the notorious Robben Island Prison to break stones for 27 years, he said: "Absolutely no. That chapter is now closed. There's enough room for everybody in the new South Africa. We are now a rainbow nation." (Just like his colourful polo shirts!).

Remember the white racists branded him as "Africa's Number One Terrorist." But for the Africans and peace loving peoples throughout the world he is freedom fighter.

It is worth mentioning here that a certain Dan McCarthy, which I perceive to be a non-Somali, according to his name, wanted to know which office I held in Somalia "to write such nonsense about the Xawaala question". I was compelled to answer his email by saying that I had never held an executive office in Somalia since its inception in 1960, apart from my stint as an editor-in-chief of a newspaper that was published under a military regime. I do not belong to any political, tribal, or religious organizations. I'm just a journalist/author-in-exile still on the run from warlords, landlords, witch hunters, bigots, big-name book publishers, harassment by Telemarketeers, North American seasonal flu, stomach flu (whatever that is), the Arctic fever and Genetically Modified Food, not to mention the harsh Canadian winter that gets into my skin.

But the bulk of your emails (99.9 per cent) gave me strength and something to cherish for the rest of my life.

As you and I know that a hope has been sparked a year ago in Djibouti for a peace conference and the restoration of a government of national unity for the first time in ten years. Abdiqassim was elected as an interim president and rookie parliamentarians have been elected. This move was hailed by many at home, those in exile in the Diaspora and the United Nations and called it a "landmark". But those who opposed the Arta group described it as sell-out by former officials of the ousted Barre regime and likened them to two wheels on the same bicycle. Then things went from bad to worse for reasons we already know. That brings me back to the golden rule in the media: "Don't repeat what your readers already knew unless it is absolutely unavoidable."

Jabriil who posted his idea on Public Forum said that my advice to Western newspaper editors to send their investigative reporters to Somalia bore some fruits. Abdiqassim Salad invited journalists from two main American newspapers, The New York Times and The Lose Angeles Times to visit Somalia to see for themselves. Well, that is at least some progress and I hope that these journalists will tell their American readers that the Somalis are busy slaughtering each other and that they have no time for international terrorism. At that same press conference Abdiqassim said that he heard Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda for the first time from the Americans on September 11. I hope he is telling the truth.

For the life of me I cannot imagine how a compassionate person describes a seventy-year-old skinny grandmother who receives 50 dollars from her toiling grandson through the Xawaala system as a "terrorist". (She tries to feed her grandchildren after their parents fled the inferno). if the American allegation was true, the Wire Remittance Companies have a lot of explanations to do as to where and to whom they send those billions of dollars mentioned in the American media. I was really shocked when I read the amount of money that changes hands between these companies and some shadowy characters. Of course, that's none of our business. Our top priority is how to send our hard earned 50 dollars to our starving mothers and grandmothers in war-torn Somalia. It is a toll order, because banks and postal services ceased to exist 11 years ago. However, I am very confident that those American journalists would straighten things out in the interest of truth and justice.

Once again I thank you wholeheartedly for the flood of emails
M. M.Afrah, Toronto (Canada)

P.S. If for some reason you don't like this letter and its contents, you are free to criticize me. It is human to err.


Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Somali journalist/author and a member of the Canadian Journalist for Free Express (CJFE) and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international newspapers. Many of us recall his critical editorials in his weekly HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory self-censorship (BAAF-REEB) which was introduced by the Guddiga Baarista Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Kacaanka Soomaaliyeed and the NSS during Major-General Mohamed Siyaad Barre's hey days. I am very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the censorship guidance and went ahead to write what he thought was wrong in the country. As a result he received several death threats and was briefly detained at the notorious Godka torture chambers. But he remained defiant. He still is!


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