WHO ARE WE?
THE HORN OF AFRICA
The Horn of Africa is in East Africa and is made up mainly of the country of Somalia, but also includes the parts of Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. It is mostly desert, but at the southern end of it is an area of fertile land called the Jubba Valley.
The Jubba Valley is made up of the Jubba and Shabelle rivers which flow in the Indian Ocean.
The Somali Bantu were formerly farmers in southern Somalia. They were under the control of other tribes who oppressed them by taking many of the crops that were grown and abusing the farmers if they did not give as much of the crops as they wanted. When war broke out between two warring tribes, the Somali Bantu people were caught in the crossfire and were attacked because of the crops they grew and the need for food in the nation. Many people died in these attacks, but some were able to escape their villages and flee thousands of miles to the border of Kenya and find some protection in refugee camps.
“Before the war came, we used to farm plants, grow things. [SIC] But they had to take half of what we grew. Whatever we worked hard to plant and grow for many months. They would leave little for us and that’s what we had to raise our children on. While you are farming, sometimes it’s very difficult because it is raining and there is mud. And then you go and take the food to those people who are taking the food you worked hard to grow all those months. If you don’t go work for them, you will not have enough food for your children. The government would give us a hard time, because if we, the Somali Bantu, wouldn’t help them grow their crops, they would not have anyone to grow things for them. If it didn’t rain that year, you still had to pay your portion. Like if you grow 20 pounds of corn, you need to pay back 60 pounds of corn. So, if it’s a year when it does not rain, you have to pay back all that you grow.”
- Hassan Malambo (Right)
WHERE DO WE COME FROM?
The Jubba Valley was our home for many years and we knew nothing outside of it.
We come from southern Somalia in what is known as the Jubba Valley which is located between the Jubba and Shabelle rivers. This area of land is very fertile and became the main place to go for agricultural farming which is how the Somali Bantu became farmers.
The Jubba Valley was our home for many years and we knew nothing outside of it. While it was our livelihood and home, it was not always the most pleasant place to live because the government in who ruled the area taxed us on our crops greatly.
For example, if we grew 20 pounds of corn, we had to pay back 60 pounds of corn to them. But, we could not refuse to give them this amount because otherwise they would not allow us to keep any at all and our children would starve. So, while life was hard, we were thankful to be in a place where we could live and raise our families in general peace.