Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goat bra and a case of mistaken identity

Story goes that in a small town in south Somalia (no GPS coordinates provided), paranoid American soldiers (don't ask what they were doing in the middle of a small Somali town, I can understand the paranoia, tho), came across a goat in a bra, similar to the one bellow.  

They have heard stories of Al-messed-up-Shabaab planting bombs in goat bras and sending them to compounds to blow up some shit. These Americans weren’t gonna take a chance, so they blew  up the poor goat’s brains before it exploded. However, upon a closer examination of the fancy looking pink bra, they realized it was a case of a mistaken identity. This was not an Al-Shabaab employed goat and was probably just heading to the mosque for Friday prayers, poor thing.

According to Somali customary law, you kill a living thing you have to pay a price. Unless you are a dog, in which case, no clan member can claim a price on your worthless little life. An elderly lady claimed the goat was hers and that the Americans should pay for having killed an innocent goat. The price normally depends on animal’s age, size and if it is a female, you pay more coz u didn’t just take a goat but also some fresh milk for breakfast. The only time in Somalia where females are worth more than males, welcome to goatcountry.

There are goats everywhere and most roam the streets freely but hit a random one and the owner magically appears with a story of how talented that goat was and why you should pay for a maximum penalty: it spoke 3 languages, had a PhD in conflict resolution, produced medicinal milk that cured aids, shat gold and ran 3 London marathons for charity. That was not an ordinary goat, goddamn it.

In the case of the tragic mistaken identity involving the Americans, the elderly lady was honest and didn’t claim her goat had any of the supergoat qualities. She just told the paranoid killers with automatic guns that they should pay, without specifying the amount. The Americans didn’t want to add complication to the ugly dead-goat-scene so they quickly paid her 200USD. The average goat price is around 25USD, easiest 175USD profit ever made! The owner was thrilled and instantly forgot about her dead goat. So thrilled in fact, she asked the goat murderers if they could kill the remaining 60 of her goats and pay 200USD each!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senseless and violent death to one of the kindest young man I know!

Mohamed Said Maweel Duale, early 20s, one of the nicest young men I have met in Hargeisa, was violently killed yesterday!!

 Always smiling, very polite and helpful. I met him when I took up my current job and had to travel to El-Afweyn to implement an SMS feedback system. We took 2 cars and he was driving the second car with some security people. We drove for 2 days, spending the night in Burao.

Whenever we took a break from driving, he would come over to our car, chat with us, joke and make us laugh. When we got to El-Afweyn, he would spend the evenings with us at the compound, even tho his family is from there and he could have left after work. He would stay till late, always laughing and joking. He was an easy and pleasant person to hangout with. He was a young good soul and a hardworking. He started working as a freelance driver for NGOS since his late teens, bright and focused beyond his years. Unlike most people I met during the trip, he never interfered in my personal business or asked what clan I was. Instead, he gave me his personal mobile number, said he is native of the city and to call him if I needed anything.

Mohamed was working in the Ainabo district office of the DRC. At 5pm yesterday, he was asked to drive to a place not far from the office to help another colleague whose car got stuck. About 25km outside Ainabo, a place called Goosoweyne, where the roads to El-Afweyn, Ainabo and Burao meet, he was ambushed by pro-Khatumo state militias. We don’t know more details beyond the fact that he was violently killed, along with a friend he was driving with, his car and personal belonging taken by the militias. When staff at the Ainabo office got worried because he was late, they called his phone. To their shock, the militias picked it up and told them they have killed Mohamed and his friend and said where they dumped their bodies!!!

This looks like a random and horrible crime against 2 innocent, kind and very young men, all because of political division between Somaliland and Khatumo state. Doesn’t make sense and am heartbroken for him, his friend and their families.

To the supporters of Khatumo state, I don’t want to talk to you all as criminals, you are not. I just want you to know about Mohamed and his friend, the most peaceful person I have met here and won’t harm a fly. He was did not represent Somaliland. These were young Somali boys killed by other young Somali boys and you might unknowingly be funding or supporting the violence from the safety of your homes in the Diaspora. I promise to find you Mohamed’s photo and post it here, you have to know about him, he was a good soul.

I am not writing this to incite hatred or violence against Khatumo State supporters or add to the already dangerous tension between Khatumo State and Somaliland. I am writing because this regional violence has finally claimed someone I know, liked, and respected. And I know he is not the first or the last victim. Claim your rights to political independence or separation but what rights can you claim if you are taking innocent lives in the name of a struggle for freedom? This applies not only to Khatumo State, but to Somaliland, Puntland and rest of Somalia.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Without fair and transparent recruitment system, poverty is here to stay.

A colleague walked into office this morning and asked if I could help him be part of an interview panel for Management Information System's assistant position. I really didn't have time and don't particularly like interviewing. He is a nice guy so I felt bad to say no and went along. 

There were 4 candidates and the first one was so bad, I instantly regretted my decision. Shud have told him I was too busy and couldn't help, lol. The poor candidate was clueless and I don't know how he even got shortlisted to 4 out of 87 applicants! 2nd candidate walked in confidently, better. He was much better but he struggled to understand the questions in English, we had to repeat few times. When he got the question right, he gave very good answers. I thought maybe he was nervous. 

Candidate 3 was a female. I was excited she made it to the shortlist and looked forward to meet her. She walked in painfully shy and inaudibly greeted us. I thought, shit! Shy like that she might not make it to the end of the short interview without bolting out of the door. But she totally surprised me! She stayed very calm, focused and answered the questions with confidence and precision. I was like, damn! She knew her stuff, studied ICT at Hargeisa University (had no idea they had an ICT department, am going to visit), and then worked for a local NGO as their website manager. 

By the time the 4th candidate showed up, I was already sold and found it challenging to focus. I had to work hard to be fair to him and to make sure if he was better, not to miss out. He was actually good. Dressed sharp, spoke well, and gave good answers, but not a competition to the previous candidate.

At the end of each interview, the candidate is asked routine questions like when they can start, if they were selected for the job, and what was their salary expectation. To my amusement, all the male candidates, who performed worst than the girl, asked for a lot higher than she had! She was shy and asked few hundred USD lower than her pay grade! I found this very interesting and maybe a reflection of women's either low self-esteem or expectations. 

As I write this, my colleague tells me the girl got the job! Am super excited for her and even tho this is a short contract, I hope she goes as far as I think she can. 

I am excited about her win because I am constantly meeting incompetent Somalis pushed into jobs they can't perform thru clan/family or other connections. It is rare to find fair job selection process where people can compete openly and fairly and where the right candidate, despite their clan, gender, or political alliance, can make it thru the selection criteria based solely on their performance. Without a transparent, fair and open recruitment system, we are going to have key government and private sector positions filled with incompetent but well connected people who are obstacle to not only our basic development but this regions massive potential.