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TALKING POINT : SOMALIA'S SEASON OF DESPAIR
…THERE'S ALSO A BRIGHT SIDE TO IT - PART TWO
TAKING POINT BY
M.M. AFRAH
Toronto (Canada)

28, Sep. 2003

SOMALIA'S SEASON OF DESPAIR …THERE'S ALSO A BRIGHT SIDE TO IT - PART TWO
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com
M. M. Afrah

THE MINNEAPOLIS SOMALIS ARE GETTING THEIR ACTS TOGETHER
PART TWO

Ways of 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.

Unlike 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."

Juba Weekly reprints the following article by Geoffrey Ziezulewicz of the Minnesota Daily about Somali students' hunger for higher education in Minnesota:

"Nimco 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 said.
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.

Mohamoud 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.

"We 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."

Jama Mohamed, a first-year student at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, said he and his high school friends have post-graduate plans.
"We're going to rebuild Somalia," Mohamed said. "Me and five friends. That's what we want to do."

In the 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.

"There 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."

The Editor 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."

He took 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.

"Even 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.

The Somali 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.

In May 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."

These 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 among others.

Somali associations and communities in the State organized the meeting.

For those 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.

Various Somali associations and communities in the State of Minnesota organized the unprecedented crucial meeting.

Now one 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,
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com

 


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