By Hussien Mohamed Yusuf
Growing up as a primary and intermediate school student in just few Kilometers away from the Border with Somaliland in the eastern part of Ethiopia, I was able to hear good stories about Somalia from teachers in our School who were mostly educated and worked in Somalia in the good old days.
I can vividly remember in my primary and intermediate school in Awbarre in the early 1990s , the only books and school curriculum we had was that of Somalia and that was the only source that has thought us about the geography and history of Somalia. I remember, our school teachers talking about the different cities and towns in Somalia, say it, Kismayo, Marka, Baidio, Beletweyne , Bosaso, and many other towns where most of our schools teachers worked or visited for assignments in the 80s when Somalia was at its best.
I had no clue about the Ethiopia, I was growing in and its regions and communities but had in my heart that I may one day go to visit those cities in Somalia that I frequently used to hear from my teachers.
It was at the end of 1990s when, I came to study high school in Jijiga, which has opened my eyes on the Ethiopia I never knew. I felt alien to other non Somalis who could not speak good English and my Amharic was too broken and minimal to speak with them. It was in the first year in the high school that many of us from the districts in Somali Region had understood that we belong to this country called Ethiopia and that there are many ethnic groups among them are Somalis.
After finishing high school, we were sent to attend colleges in the Ethiopia that we have never been to and were Somalis are not known. I remember that first day when our bus arrived at the entrance of that college, all the communities around there came to watch us since it was the first time that Somalis arrived in their area. We were like a European white man visiting a very rural deep African country side.
It was in those years in the University that we have started reading and listening radios about the failed state of Somalia. We Somalis are Somalis and share deep blood and belongingness with our brothers in Somalia and most of the other Ethiopians believe that Somalis are Somalis wherever they are regardless of their country of origin be it Somalia, Kenya , Ethiopia or Djibouti.
I am of the Generation who grew up and schooled in the New Ethiopia of the Post Derge Regime where every Regional State has its own running Government system. My generation grew up and went to schools and Universities with the same Generation of other Ethiopian ethnic groups like Oromos, Amharas and Tigrains among others whom we share with one country called Ethiopia.
I remember one incident in the University, while I was doing my Masters in one of the Universities in Ethiopia, in one morning; I had an appointment with my advisor in his office where he shares with one other Professor. I knocked the door and after entering the room, I asked the other professor in the room about my advisor and I speaking in Amharic was a total shock to him. He asked me how I learned Amharic and I told him that I have been to school and learned Amharic in the school. He asked me where I am from and when I told him that I am from Jigjiga, he, in a very unhappy face told me that Somalis are Somalis were ever they are and a Somali coming from Ethiopia, Somalia or Kenya is the same for him. I told him that I am proud to be Somali and to belong to all those countries he has mentioned. I jokingly told him that I am a citizen of the greater horn of Africa and more privileged than many and that made him very uncomfortable
I remember as a student in the University how we felt ashamed whenever we were asked by our other ethnic classmates about the chaos and crises in Somalia and why Somalia is in mess! That is the Somalia I knew growing up and it will not surprise those of you who grew up under the umbrella and euphoria of the greater Somalia that Somalia, to my generation is No man’s country and there is no reason you run after other ethnic Somalis living in peace and harmony with their respective other ethnic groups in the different Horn of Africa Countries.
These days, I feel bad all about Somalinimo and how bad and worse it is to be Somali in the horn of Africa. Working for a regional organization enabled me meet with many different people from the greater horn of Africa and whenever we need to discuss where to organize the next meeting or workshop is when I feel bad everything about Somalia.
I will be silent about the different choices if I may not recommend some locations in Ethiopia otherwise Somalia is out of the Choices being discussed.
When flying over Somalia, a country with the longest beach in Africa, you will see that long green beach stretched and that is when I ask myself when in the history of my life I will be able to go with my colleagues in one of the beaches, in Kismayo, Marka , Xamar and all the other beautiful beaches to arrange a training and enjoy the breathe in the afternoons as we don in Mombasa, Beshoftu and Entebbe.
My dream is to see a peaceful Somalia that I don’t hesitate to recommend for a tourist visit or arrangement of a regional meeting.
Hussien Mohamed Yusuf
Email: [email protected]
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