by Abdirashid Fidow
Monday, March 09, 2015
Today marks the 19th anniversary of the death of Elman Ali Ahmed, father, peace activist, entrepreneur and prominent human rights campaigner from Somalia.
Elman Ali Ahmed was an amazing peacemaker as well as a civil rights activist who strongly believed in his work and unwavering responsibility to have a positive impact on those that are less fortunate than him. Elman Ali Ahmed was a young Somali man who went to Italy in the mid 1980’s to Study Electronic Engineering and later completed his masters in Germany. In 1988, Elman went back to Somalia to help his country’s economic growth and opened the first Electronic shop “Elman Electronics “in and around Mogadishu with a view to moving to the other parts of Somalia.
The civil war broke out and Somali government collapsed, Elman began helping the unfortunate young street kids better known as “Ciyaal koolo dhuuq” (glue addicted kids) and the kids who lost everything including their parents, and family who had nothing during the war. He used to give them food, shelter, shoe shining equipment’s and Electronic Engineering lessons to teach them Electronics to employ them in his company rather than becoming child soldiers. Elman electronics was the only company to supply electronic goods in Mogadishu during the wars, he also had the well-known Club Elman FC, a football club which helped youth get into sports activities and come together to become better citizens.
‘’Put down the gun, pick up the pen- Qoriga dhig Qalinka Qaado’’. Elman
In 1992 a major famine hit Somalia caused by a severe drought. Nearly 300,000 innocent people starved to death as a result of lack of cohesion between farmers and a lack of government. The epicentre of that famine was in Bay, one of the country’s most productive agricultural regions, and starvation was induced by warlords who used food as a weapon against farmers and pastoralists.
Marauding gangs had invaded the region after the collapse of the Somali state in 1991 and looted farmers’ harvests. The country’s major warlords wanted to capture the region, so they did not allow food aid to reach the desperate populations. Reports told of unimaginable suffering long before TV images of ruined lives reached millions around the world. It was only then that US president George H.W Bush decided to send US troops to the country to enable food to reach the suffering population.
A large amount of Somali women and children fled from the southern Somalia, this is a time known as “Operation Restore Hope”. Elman Ali Ahmed, saw the disintegration of his people, He also opened up feeding centres for the most venerable people in Somali society, which are women and children as sanctuary to escape the horrors they faced and he also expanded his school using his own money to feed, educate and employ most of the refugees from the drought. Elman Ali Ahmed was tragically killed on 9th march 1996 in Mogadishu. He was a peace maker who loved to help the vulnerable and needy. His legacy has inspired many youth to never give up hope and love one another as Somalis. He also built a Mosque in Mogadishu near K4 Zone Tower, and was the Imam before his passing.
When everyone was running from the war, Elman was running towards it to save the Somali people. He was one of the people that inspired me as a child and i will continue to live out his dream, his killing marked a dark period for Somalia and I hope the current generation of young Somalis will never forget Elman and his legacy.
May Allah forgive all of his sins, expand his grave, and put light in it. May Allah grant him Janna Firdaus and may he be together with his loved ones in Jannah, Ameen.
An activist advocating for social justice, equality and peace within Somalis across the horn of Africa. Email: [email protected]