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Sad Day for Mama Suubban
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by Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Friday, March 07, 2008
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It was around the third quarter of 2006 when the Ethiopian-Backed Transitional Federal Government and the defunct Islamic courts were set on a collision course following a bitter anguish of a political war over who should run the country. To large extent, this has hastened, if not directly caused, the collapse of Khartoum talks.
 
Winds of war started blowing fiercely as TFG squeezed itself in Baidoa town while the Islamic courts had their feet firmly on much of the Southern parts of Somalia, lashing out exaggerated acrimony to threaten and eventually dislodge the TFG. It was beyond doubt that an armed clash was imminent but mama Suubban had dreams of a different sort. She wanted to see peace in her country.
 
Right after concluding her Cishaa prayers and well before she went to bed, Mama Suubban, a Somali mother in her seventies, stretched herself on a small Somali mat (Salli), which was barely enough to accommodate all of herself. Her face was fixed on the moon, which supplied a glint of hope as it glowed brightly on a land that hardly knew modern lights. 
 
Before the Ethiopian invasion, Mama Suubban lived in a ruined part of Mogadishu where electricity was a privilege rather than a right. As her legs were stuck out due to space insufficiency she felt the warmth of the breathing sand. The old lady explored the shining spots of her mind where most of her memoirs were quite active. In sailing on the calm waters of her dream ocean she saw herself carried away by waves of illusion, which pushed her the shores of sadness.
 
Listeneníng to the sound of her soul, Mama Suubban, almost half sleep, heard echoes of mixed feelings which evoked fear in hear mind, But before falling to a full blown slumber, Mama Suuban, with here rosary dangling between her skinny fingers, said this prayer:
 
Oh Allah
Lord of the universe
Please save Somalia
Please avoid further bloodshed
 
Suuban was not praying without a reason. She knew what war has done to her in person and to the entire nation of Somalia. It was in the 40’s when Suubban, then in her early teens, lost her father in a war with the Italian colonial force inside Mogadishu. He was a freedom fighter, a member of the SYL party who acted as the spearhead of the struggle for independence. He always fought in the frontline during the uprisings against the colonial administration. Armed with spears, stones and clubs, the Somalis clashed these days with the Italian police several times to get rid of the colonizers from the motherland.
 
The death of Mama Suuban´s father, Farah, constituted a huge tragedy on the part of the family. Mama Suuban was left orphan in the hands of a relative as poverty denied her mother to take care of her. Being an extra member of her new family Suubaban was seen more of a burden than a child who needed support both emotionally and materially.
 
She was systematically exploited by making her an unpaid house girl or jaariyad, putting most of the household chores upon her shoulders. When Somalia became independent, little was said about the Somali heroes who had sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country, let alone offering care and protection to the loved ones they had left behind. 
 
At an early age though, Mama Suuban got married to a man who later joined the Somali National Army. But out from nowhere and with such a harsh blow and intensity, tragedy had visited her again when her husband was killed in the 1977 war between Somalia and Ethiopia. She had become a single parent raising children with a meager income she generated from Uunsi and Catar sales.
 
Mama Suubban witnessed a third murder episode when her elder son Jamal was shot dead in Mogadishu by marauding thugs. Not only that but Mama Suubban has lost two more sons in the horrible fire fight with the US Rangers in October 1993 after a rocked propelled grenade landed in their house. She is old now and desperately helpless, living as a displaced person around Ceelasha biyaha. She is being taken care of by her daughter Salaado who herself is raising a child born out of rape. In May of last year an Ethiopian soldier attacked and subsequently raped Salaado in her house when the Ethiopians went there for a fake weapons search exercise
 
The worst thing that happened to Mama Suubban is not the death of her sons but the birth of her grandson. Behind the shacks of their new settlement, Salaado gave birth to the first baby-boy fathered by an unknown Ethiopain soldier. The deep look in the eyes of some relatives who were present at the delivery site suggested throwing or even killing the baby. But others thought that harming an innocent baby “will never solve our problem”. So what do you think we should do with this baby?
 
 Mama Suubban sees the baby as a mark of shame in the soul of all Somalis, a sign of defeat, a shock and a constant humiliation to live with.
When the baby was born, Mama Suubban covered her face with her palms and flinched back as if she was forced to kiss fire. Worse still the birth of this baby coincided with the preparations and celebrations of the International Women´s Day. Siddeedda Maarso has brought joy to millions of women around the globe but in the case of Mama Suuban, her daughter and the entire women of Somalia, 8 March heralds tremendous pain and despair.
 
Abdi-Noor Mohamed
Writer and filmmaker
Gävle, Sweden
[email protected]