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WDN Persons of the year 2016: Hassan Abukar and Faisal Roble

 By WardheerNews

WardheerNews recognizes Hassan Abukar and Faisal Roble as their persons of the year.  Although Hassan and Faisal hail from different regions, they have a common bond through their writings for the love of country in this climate where everything Somali is derided around the world. Given their continues, never yielding, daring writing on Somalia, these men of the pen have embarked to write and analyze, decipher and explain situation on the ground spanning the gamut of family, culture, religion, law and politics. Although their writing style may be different, they share much in integrity and depth.

Hassan M. Abukar

Mr. Abukar was born in Afgooye, though Mogadishu was his home. He writes in his book, Mogadishu Memoir “ Go, greet your father, my mother commanded me. I was six or seven years old when I first met my dad. My parents had found themselves in a verbal altercation a few months before I was born, and they had decided, according to local Somali tradition, to terminate their marriage after my birth.  My mother, my five-year-old sister Lul from a previous marriage, and I had all moved to Mogadishu 30 kilometers south of Afgooye, my birthplace. Afgooye, a small farming town with beautiful scenery, was the weekend getaway for Mogadishu’s affluent and middle class back when the country was relatively peaceful; it was also where my father’s family and his Geledi clan lived. My mother, on the other hand, hailed from the Northeast region, hundreds of miles away and not long ago a bastion of piracy.

Hassan’s influence by his late Mother Dahabo from Qardho, in his book Mogadishu Memoir he attest to his mother’s hard work, empowered demeanor, iron like persona and clever survival instinct. Reading his book you begin to understand how he comes to his talent as a writer and through his book you begin to delve into the writer who grew up in an era where Somalis were in tribal harmony and neighbors looked out for each other in ways that made a child growing up at the time the responsibility of the whole neighborhood.

Mr. Roble was born in Jigjiga, the capital of what is now called the Somali region of Ethiopia from the Geri tribe that are known for their rich history of battle against the Abyssinians. His mother has roots from Garaad Wiilwaal of the Bartire. At a young age, Faisal displayed a gift for debating and became a talented orator. In an interview with WardheerNews, Faisal stated, “My father was a fearless and renowned Somali nationalist who never shied away from his believe in Somali nationhood.  Right after returning from WWII of course fighting for the pro-Italian forces, he was greatly influenced by the Somali Youth Club movement in Jigjiga.  Some of my father’s relatives were hanged in the public square of our home town in 1957 for they were being accused of opposing the rule of Haile Selassie”. In the interview Faisal continues, “I am your typical Somali child – a world class refugee and a “rolling stone” with multiple residences. I was born and raised in Jigjiga, went to school in Hargeisa and Mogadishu, briefly worked in Qardho, and found home in Los Angeles, California. My formative years were shaped by a good dose of early exposure to radical political ideas and the unending fight against injustice no matter who is at the helm of the commission of it. I started reading Marxism and the left’s literature before I finished Junior High.  In the same line of mind cultivation, I read numerous books on Russian Classics as well as American and British literature during my High School days.”

Hassan and Faisal, share many similarities, such as keen love for their home country Somalia, as it’s evident in their unique writings that transcends regions, tribes and political ideology. They both graduated from the University of California system, Hassan from the University of California in San Diego, and Faisal from the University of California in Los Angles. While many of their ilk went back to Somalia to destabilize the country with corruption, tribalism and mayhem. The men who write take their knowledge and experience to out those same people who are creating instability and chaos in the homeland. Whether friend or foe their pen is an equal opportunity for all.

Faisal Roble

Many readers of WardheerNews will not forget the eloquent, mesmerizing, nostalgic article,  A tale of two cities, Faisal wrote: “There was a time when Mogadishu was a supper city and was blessed with diversity. It was the time when Hibo Nuura’s piercingly powerful voice could be heard with the words of “Ma miliilicdeen wali mana Jidhiidhicooteen.” Faisal continues, “ In a good day, walking near Shabelle Hotel and its storefronts built to the property line, or standing by Shanema Equatore to catch the last sitiye Monookto mini truck-turned-public-transportation to my destination, Lafoole campus where I attended college, would give me the right dose of belonging to a cosmopolitan culture of a city. Or in my later days in Mogadishu, my frequent dining at Cabachinto Nero, after which time I would pay a quick visit to a Gelato kiosk (ice cream parlor) on my way to the night’s highlight – Shaneema Centrale (to see movies like Il Granda Fugo or the Great Escape) where I would be standing next and rubbing shoulders with Minister Bootaan who frequented there – would give me a complete sense of urban life in a city full of diversity. Also, a sense of peace and ultimate security was never missed on me!”

These are some of the most nostalgic, descriptive gorgeous words about Mogadishu in print. One forgets this article was written twelve years ago in 2005, one also is intrigued and in awe that Faisal’s pen has not been dried by the continues challenges that face the country and its people as a whole.

Equally intriguing is Hassan Abokor’s eloquence when he writes about the collapse of the beloved capital of Somalia Mogadishu, the same city Faisal describes, Hassan writes in his book, Mogadishu Memoir  “when President Siad Barre and his supporters were driven out of the city, what happened next in the capital is beyond comprehension. Keith Richburg, a Washington Post reporter, wrote a vivid portrayal of the city in the early 1990s in his interesting book, Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa (1997): “When I first saw Mogadishu in 1992, the capital looked like a transplanted set from “Mad Max” movies, about a surreal post-nuclear world where scavengers survive by slapping together debris and bits of scrap metal. Mogadishu hadn’t gone through a nuclear inferno−but it seemed about as close as you could come in an urban setting.”

But Hassan never lost hope for his hometown as he writes in his Book Mogadishu Memoir “ I have never lost hope for Mogadishu, somehow I knew the city will recover from its destruction and decay.. not just in building houses, but also in building trust and confidence.”

Hassan is the writer who brought to our attention the plethora of issues that exist in Somali courtships. Insightful and witty with material that is wrought with relationships engulfed with brokenness in many fronts, he delves into the Somali family in a way no one has in the past to analyze relationships and family dysfunction woven in wit when the situation is dire, humor is how he makes his readers have an ease with the topic. In his installment of the chronicle:  Courtship and marriage: The Somali experience (Part 11) he writes:

“When I call my husband a lion, I mean the term in both a good and bad way. He is magnanimous, family oriented, a great provider, brave, generous, outgoing, loyal, and a true leader. I feel safe with him. My family loves him. I have, however, one problem. My husband is not romantic. For a man who is educated and has spent a decade and a half in the United States. He lacks the basic understanding of what a modern woman wants. Every time I show affection, he jumps on me like a lion that has captured its prey. He acts as though he is conquering that prey, with no gentleness and no consideration for his wife.”

It’s often noted “A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels”. Great writers are said to have the “ability to size up content and connect the dots.” Hassan and Faisal grab the attention of the readers, due to the quality and depth of their writings, which is not marred with fallacy and bias. In each step Somalia takes in its quest to come out of the chaos and unrest to rejoin the nations of the world, Hassan and Faisal continue to be at the forefront strengthening society through their input in a well-balanced and articulated writing.

Hassan and Faisal are now household names, because of their tireless efforts to write and choose to use the pen to glaze over injustices and maladministration while influencing public opinion for the better. Peak into their articles, many appearing on these very pages (WardheerNews), from rule of law, accountability and transparency of Somalia’s leaders, election processes, corruptions, social justice, environment and family affairs. Faisal noted in an interview with WardheerNews “I was early on exposed to my father’s anger against oppression and his undying political philosophy of never giving in to oppression and subjugation.” It’s obvious that Faisal carries on the legacy of his father to fight against injustices.

In a recent WardheerNews Op-Ed both Hassan and Faisal wrote about Somalia’s Upper and Lower House elections and the lack of transparency, corruption and mismanagement that took place in many regions of Somalia.

“The South West (SW) is a state in which Sharif Hassan acts as though he owns it. He has made sure to exclude capable SW figures from his administration. He does not care much about the international community because he knows how to manipulate the system”, Hassan wrote regarding the recent parliamentary election of the South West region.

On the other hand, Faisal stated on the same subject, suggesting a set of measures against corruption and how to move Somalia forward: “If and when any candidates are found to have bribed, paid or used money to influence the results of the presidential vote, both the results and the candidacy of such cheating individuals shall be immediately vacated.”

The duo, are undeniable forces that are educating and providing the general public with information about issues that shape their lives and those of the masses who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the honest writing of both men. Their writing also comes in the form of advice to leaders to do better for the public.

So we are grateful to have chosen Hassan and Faisal who continue to write and ultimately shape policy and opinion in the larger arena of Somalia. We are glad to give them overdue praise as WardheerNews 2016 Persons of the Year, for being tireless, unapologetic and valiant trailblazers in this field.

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Related articles:

–  WDN Person of the Year 2015: Ahmed Hussen, the new Canadian member of Parliament
  WDN peron of the year 2014:Somali Week Festival (SWF) and Hargeisa   International Book Fair (HIBF)
WDN Person of the year 2013: Said Salah
WDN Person of the year 2012: Somali youth
WDN Person of the year 2011: Sharif Hassan Sh. Adan

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