Image by František G.

WHY DID WE LEAVE HOME?

Civil War in Somalia

The civil war was between two warring tribes beginning in Mogadishu that slowly moved towards the Somali Bantu farmers in the Jubba Valley. Due to a lack of food in the country, after the war broke out, the farmers were in huge danger because they grew crops which were a desirable commodity to the warring fighters and soldiers. The farmers were attacked often and held hostage by soldiers, men were forced to either fight or be killed, women and girls were raped and abused until either they escaped or died. For the few that escaped, they faced a grueling trek across desert that was filled with dangerous animals, intense elements, and no protection from those pursuing them. They traveled during the night in order to try and stay hidden from their pursuers, hiking for thousands of miles with the hope of finding protection at the border of Kenya.

We were not human

“When the war hit in 1991, we became like garbage. We were not human no more. When the war came, I witnessed myself, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers, our grandfathers, men, and women being sexually abused in front of us. We were watching but could do nothing. We saw our children, mothers, and fathers being killed in front of us, and we had to watch but could do nothing. We were forced to watch until the soul was out of their bodies. We started running during the nighttime and during the daytime, hiding.”

Ula Muya (Left)

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“The war it wasn’t us that started it. It started in Mogadishu. We didn’t have places to store our food, so sometimes we would put it in tanks and hid it underground. But they began to ask us and make us show them the food we were hiding for our family. You will see your own daughter being sexually abused in front of you but you can’t say nothing. They take your wife out of your hand and they sleep with her while you’re watching, but you can’t say nothing. If you talk, you dead. The most painful thing that have seen for me to leave the village and go to Kismaayo, was for my uncle and my cousins they were killed in front of me. After I saw my own cousins killed in front of me, that’s when I had so much pain I couldn’t hold it in and I had to leave the village. After I got to Kismaayo, I went to the ocean and they had a little job there. I got about 20 pounds of rice. I worked all day to get that 20 pounds of rice, but on my way home they took the rice from me and I had to go home with nothing. I went back to the ocean and saw some rice spilled on the floor, so I started picking those. Then I went to place where they loaded equipment on a truck. I got a 100 centi, which is about 1 penny in USD. As soon as I got that money in the morning, I didn’t stay. I got a car and went to Kenya.”

The war, it wasn’t us that started it.

Hassan Malambo