by Abdi-Noor Hagi Mohamed
Monday, August 20, 2007
Wherever I go I have a habit of meeting and chatting with children but my last encounter with a group of school age children in the outer edge of Bakaraha market, has been a lesson I learned as a life-long experience of war. As I listened to their pleas as to how they see the war I couldn't avoid coming up with this article. It is quite unfair to let our children undergo such an enormous pain that shatters the hearts of people who never happened to live under such circumstances or otherwise stayed out of touch with the reality on the ground. I thank God for being around when most of it was happening. This is a summary of children’s grievances articulated in the form of a message to the WORLD, if at all we have a world. They begin with:
We, the children of Somalia do hereby send the WORLD an open letter to expose and share the terrible life we are leading in this war-ravaged nation of Somalia where children have no voice to express their feelings. Our cries are silenced with the shrapnel of strayed rockets and sometimes few rounds of mortar attacks is all that we receive as food during the night.
We live in a situation where child death does not make news as wires are busy transferring information related adult obituary, not giving attention to the status and circumstances surrounding the death of the Somali children. We are only reported as a statistic figure aimed to be highlighted in the reports. We die from gunshots and diseases of various types, including those preventable through immunization just because the vaccination teams do not get access to us as a result of cross fire taking place in our vicinity.
We live in a situation where we complain from hunger when the only companion we complain to is hunger itself. . We seldom line up for food distribution but suddenly a fresh fight flares up between two antagonistic factions who aspire to step up in the power ladder at the expense of our future. They fight over the food donated to us by the world and the one who won in the fight would make away with our food sending us back to our shacks hungry. We are sentenced to slow death commensurate with the genocide of Darfur and other areas devastated by anarchy and conflict. The world must hear our voice on grounds that we deserve care on the basis of humanity though humanity itself is a scarce commodity these days.
We live in a situation where soldiers outnumber civilians forcing people to flee en-masse to get safety posing tremendous hardships to children who constitute the most vulnerable sector of the society. Many a child had died while on trip to a displaced people's camp in the towns and surrounding areas. Education is a luxury which only the well off people could dream about such as those who can take their children away from the line of fire and send them abroad. Most of us have passed the age of going to school yet we are not getting access to education due to the escalating tension and killings in the country.
We live in a situation where bullets are pens and children go to the school of horror where gunmen are teachers. The only future a child should be looking ahead is to grow up and join the war machine fueled with the blood of the innocent. Those who are fighting now have been children when the war started in Somalia seventeen years ago and we see no way to miss hell if the current trend is not altered. We see no hope in the horizon and our future is not only bleak but is one which promises hell from which we cannot escape.
We live in a situation where chaos is stability as both the TFG and the insurgents can not survive without the sound of mortar bombs. A day of no shooting can evoke terror in their minds as they lose ground once peace dawns in Somalia. When culprits are saints killers are the leaders! And when bombs are sold in the streets explosions are a mere entertainment!
We live in a situation where pain is a pleasure and despair is the only joy one can count on. Life in my area is just a cheap article of trade displayed in the markets of terror run by merchants of death. We are the children of Somalia and we deserve love and attention especially when we are at this tender stage of childhood. Children who grew up in this kind of situation have shown deep hostility and hatred to their fellow brethren and even took dirty offers from terrorists around the world. If our condition is not improved we would become human-bombs ready to explode in the face of humanity much earlier than the of maturity.
We live in a situation where peace means lack of peace and safety hides behind the walls danger. Child abuse is rampant and the only toys we play with are explosives that kill or maim so many children on daily basis though only few are reported or added in the international media stream. If you ask me to make sketches as I please, obviously I prefer to draw vehicles mounted with machine guns and bombs going off at the roadsides. If my life is not taken care of at an early stage I would certainly be another warlord or a destroyer of the century who feeds on blood and bone of his own people.
We live in a place where divisions are a unity as tribalists feel more relaxed when they are more fragmented. As a child warlords made me to understand pain is a way of comfort which I should contemplate with, and worse still, my mind is being corrupted to the extent that I take neglect as a way of care-taking. As a child I ought to have my rights protected but when my parents are at war with themselves who is going to protect me? Can I have a legal guardian? Does anybody want to adopt me? Does your heart have a soft spot for children? Please be my father.
Writer and Fimmaker