Keeping hope alive (Dr Hawa Abdi) [2013]


Confused, erratic – and very brave. From land-owning family. Studied medicine on a Soviet Union-sponsored scholarship. Returned with great visions; fuzzy democratic ideals intermingled with strange Islamic perspectives. Nationalist tendencies mixed with the belief that Somalis can only destroy their country, and that foreign help is needed. All in all, a very apolitical, easy-to-support figurehead. Undoubtedly brave, undoubtedly very confused.

My Islam sees women as valued members of society – as equals… [My italics.]

Although I wasn’t required to attend classes on atheism and scientific socialism, some of the national practices did get into my muscles and my blood… I took what I wanted, and I left the rest. Of course I wanted our country to be built well, whether that was through democracy or socialism… [Democracy or socialism.]

While I appreciated many aspects of Sharia – the business and commercial provisions are similar to modern law – I always argued with my professor over women’s rights.

Siad Barre was a big supporter of women’s rights; under his leadership, Somali women were teachers and police officers and even construction workers, carrying iron and one to transform our rapidly growing city.

In 1974, after a revolution in Ethiopia, the Soviet Union began to support their new leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam. […] After the Soviets accused Siad Barre of backing a liberation movement inside the Ogaden in 1977, we went to war… [My italics]

In 1978, when Ethiopia’s Soviet-backed military launched a surprise attack against the Somali troops, the teachers defeated the students, and Somalia lost the war. [News to me: Cuban and Yemeni troops were involved alongside Soviets.]

”Don’t cry – if you die, die normally, someone said to him. ”It is no problem to die.” [A dying patient at the clinic. Chilling words!]

The fighting continued, and by November 1991, civil war broke out between the followers of two warlords controlling Mogadishu…

Their tired eyes were wide as they told me that a thousand Somalis had been killed in the crash and the fighting, and at least five American soldiers. Someone had heard from a relative inside Mogadishu that a group had captured the dead American soldiers, dragging their bodies through the streets. ”That is inhuman,” I said. [Which is inhuman? The thousand dead Somalis blasted to pieces by hi-tech US weaponry, or the five Americans dragged through the streets?]

[Dr Hawa needs an operation herself.] Soon after we learned that MSF had made a generous offer: Since I was a humanitarian, the operation would be free. God is great, I thought. The answer has come in time. [1. ”Since I was a humanitarian”?! and 2. God is great?]

Islamic Court Union (ICU) and their militia Al-Shabab (The Youth)


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