Sunday, 22 November 2015


This week, a festival of its kind happened in Nairobi - the first Somali Heritage Week – a festival meant to highlight ‘’the contribution of Somalis to the beauty and cultural richness of Kenya’’.  Last night, this blog promised its fans and followers that it will highlight the contributions made by the community to the development of Kenya. But before the blog was published, the Sunday Nation carried a shallow feature with a catchy title but little content. 

Other than quoting some panelists and participants, the Sunday Nation’s feature ‘’Insight into the earliest settlers of EA: Somalis’’ either ignored the community’s contribution politically, economically and culturally or the writers were too lazy to do a proper story. Bloggers have a duty to correct those who disregard the truth and distort facts. Allow me to educate them.

It’s foolhardy to write about the contribution of the Somali community ‘to the beauty and cultural richness of Kenya’ without capturing their daily struggle politically, economically, socially,  how we have reached where we are now and the men and women on the steering wheel of the community.

The Somali Heritage Week – An event that brought together Somali leaders, writers, youths, activists, bloggers including yours truly -was officially opened by Kamkunji Member of Parliament Hon Yussuf Haasan. Yussuf’s  – a veteran journalist, long time employee of the UN, activist and an ex executive member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPPK) – personal story is intertwined with that of Somalis in this country.  His opening remarks “The Somali national is everywhere and is easily visible, yet invisible because little is known about us. It’s now important to engage with other Kenyans,” set the stage for an interesting discussion that lasted for four days.  Hon Abdikadir Ore, Member of Parliament for Wajir West, was also a panelist and heavily contributed to the event’s success.
So, who are the Somalis and what is their story. Why is it important to celebrate them now? In his documentary, Not Yet Kenyan’’, renowned journalist Mohamed Adow brought to the fore an interesting, dramatic and yet bold narrative of the tribulations the Somali community has endured over the last 50 years of Kenya’s independence. The Somali Heritage Week was meant to highlight this historical injustices, share the community’s contributions to the development of the country and change the perception other Kenyan communities have of the Somalis. In order to overcome ignorance and prejudice, we must celebrate diversity. Diversity is our strength.

As I sip my favorite sweet-hot- black tea, comfortably sitting at the balcony of Diamond restaurant, overlooking Eastleigh’s skyscrapers, let me tell you the story of Somalis commercial enterprise and their political power. Welcome to Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, you are now at the global commercial hub of Somali entrepreneurship. When the British colonialists established an airbase at Eastleigh, little did they know that it would grow into a huge commercial gateway. It has since evolved into a “Dubai” of East Africa, where cheap imports are accessible. Today, the dry ‘free’ inland port attracts traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda. Capitalism finds its real home here; with small businesses coexisting alongside big establishments. Eastleigh, described by many as "Little Mogadishu", as well as a city within a city on account of its robust business sector has come from far. All that thanks to the Somalis who were here as early as 1914.
Somalis are the most entrepreneurial people in Africa. It is due to their entrepreneurial spirit that the Somali grew up with the mentality of leadership. When you have leadership drives you also have entrepreneurship with it because you don't want to take orders from a 'boss' so you go out and set your own business even if it’s a taxi. Somalis have a thing with taking orders.


Politically, Somalis have contributed to the political development of the nation, from Lancaster conference, second liberation to the struggle for the 2010 constitution.

Here are the most Notable  Political  figures of the Somali Community.

Hon Adan Dualle –Hon Adan Duale, Mmeber of Parliament for Garissa Township and Leader of Majority is the ruling party’s – Jubilee – top MP and the most senior politician from the Somali Community. Vocal, fearless, inspiring, deeply religious and highly educated.
 To most Kenyans, Duale is the Jubilee government’s foremost defender.
The Garissa Township MP takes on opponents of Jubilee – from the civil society to CORD leaders – head-on. He has heavily to contributed to the success of the Somali community and majority of the community youth see him as a role model.  He has a dream of one day becoming the President of the Republic of Kenya, as he once said on Jeff Koinange’s show, JKL.

Hon Billow Kerrow: The Senator for Mandera  and Chair, Finance, Commerce and Budget Committee, Kenya Senate is one of the most vocal senators in the country. He’s also a columnist with one of the local dailies.

Ambassador Amina Mohamed:  Ambassador Amina Mohamed, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme at Nairobi is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade. A former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs and former Ambassador of Kenya to the United Nations at Geneva. Amb. Amina Mohamed is a lawyer and diplomat by profession and has served in the public service for the last three decades. Somali girls need not look anywhere else for inspiration.

Hon Yussuf Hassan: Politician, diplomat, social activist and former journalist and Director of IRIN is the Member of Parliament for Kamkunji. The only Somali politician representing a cosmopolitan constituency in the heart of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.

Late Ahmed Khalif Mohamed: The former Labour Minister and MP for Wajir West died in a plane crash in 2003, weeks after he was sworn. One of the most respected and renowned politician since 1978. He was among the founders of KANU B, a rebel group within the then ruling party, under the one party state.

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