At the end of August this year, WorldRemit, one of the leading players in the world of international money transfers, put in a reported $500m bid for the takeover of the US app-based remittance company Sendwave. Not bad going for a company that was founded only 10 years ago by a Somali entrepreneur, Ismail Ahmed.
Remittances today account for more than FDI or overseas development aid. The global market is estimated at $700bn a year. Nigeria alone received an estimated $24bn in remittances in 2018, up from $4bn in 2013.
Many economists predicted that the economic meltdown caused by Covid-19 would lead to a massive drop in remittances and as a result, adversely impact emerging markets. The World Bank, at the start of the pandemic in April, estimated a 20% fall in remittances, anticipating catastrophic consequences.
However, these predictions were confounded when some countries, such as Kenya, posted growing year-on-year remittance numbers as at August. Ahmed is not surprised by this. He says he couldn’t fathom the World Bank estimates as experience had shown him that remittances were generally countercyclical.
The rise in remittances, for example in countries like Kenya, has been attributed to a number of factors. One is that many of the people sending money back home are actually those ‘essential workers’ who have kept health facilities going, and provided the services that have kept the economies of the West afloat.
In addition, government stimuli had cushioned the economic blow and the different economic mitigation schemes have meant that in some countries, such as the US, disposable income at the end of the month has at times actually been higher than what many workers were earning before the pandemic.
Ahmed says that the figures for WorldRemit, as at October, were quite strong for the year. “The only region where there was a noticeable fall are the Gulf countries, especially with Indian workers sending money back home.”
Recalling his life story, he says it seems that he was destined to work in money transfer services. He was born and raised in what is now Somaliland and he reflects that his family often received monies from a relative working in the Gulf.
With an excellent head for figures, he was awarded a World Bank scholarship to study economics at the University of London in the UK. But before he could take up the offer, the Somali Civil War intervened.
In the chaos that followed, he managed to escape and thanks to the money sent to him by his brother working in Saudi Arabia, he was able to purchase an air ticket out of Djibouti to the UK.
Expertise in the world of remittances
Fascinated by the world of remittances, he wrote a research paper on the subject at Sussex University; and whilst at the London Business School, as part of a case study project, he put together a model of a remittance business. This was to become the blueprint for what is today WorldRemit.
Before setting up WorldRemit, Ismail worked at the UN to advise on the system of remittances after 9/11.
While working on a UN Development Programme for Somalia, out of Nairobi, he noticed fraud involving senior colleagues. He blew the whistle and, for this, was dismissed.
He fought his corner, alleging unfair dismissal. He won his case and substantial compensation. This was the seed money he used to launch WorldRemit together with Catherine Wines, who also had extensive experience in money transfers, having herself restructured a remittance business that was subsequently sold to Travelex.
He says the scope of their ambition right from the get-go was big – hence the name of the company. As a student, he had experienced the frustrations and high charges involved in sending money back home. Working at the UN, he had realised that the process could be expensive as well as far from frictionless.
Right from the outset, he says, he knew that using rapidly improving IT technology was going to be the ace in their pack. Properly deployed, it could challenge the two giants in the field – Western Union and Moneygram.
He sees WorldRemit as an aspect of the increasingly important fintech sphere. The runaway success of M-Pesa and mobile money in Kenya underscored to him, in the early 2000s, the enormous potential of digital.
However, breaking into the market wasn’t plain sailing. The dominant players had, in many cases, struck exclusivity deals with banks or agents and seemed unassailable.
Given the very tight space left in the market, WorldRemit started with a single agent in both Uganda and Kenya. But the company still managed to get considerable business. This proved to them that their business was viable and also that the market was growing apace.
It was not long before WorldRemit became a substantial global player. Today the company operates in over 6,500 money transfer corridors worldwide and sends money from 50 countries to more than 150 nations.
The acquisition of Sendwave will make it a company that generates over $200m in revenue and manages more than $7.5bn of remittance flows.
The deal will strengthen the company’s position in the US, the world’s biggest source of outward remittances. “You can’t be big in money transfers if you’re not big in the US,” says Ahmed.
Industry more streamlined
The remittance industry has definitely benefited from having more players in the market: costs have been drastically reduced and the spread on exchange rates has also fallen considerably. However, some analysts warn that it is becoming an increasingly difficult area in which to make money as competition is eroding margins and the marketing costs to acquire new customers are greater than the gains.
Ahmed doesn’t agree; he counters that the industry will not only grow but will evolve. One factor behind the resilience of remittances has been the digitisation of payments. “Somaliland is pretty much a cashless society today. In Kenya, 90% of remittances are non-cash based, with the majority going to mobile money. In Nigeria 90% of international money transfers will end up in a bank account. So even during lockdowns, remittance flows still take place.”
He believes that the digitisation of remittances will also enable countries and analysts to better understand and make use of data that is now more readily available.
He also anticipates that the infrastructure backbone of remittances, which is ultimately about matching and settling trades, can help play a greater role in business transactions such as purchasing machinery or goods from abroad, as well as in intra-African trade, where too often buyers need to access dollars or euros to settle a payment within Africa.
Remittances have often been overlooked as a development tool, he says, but today they are a key indicator from a macro-economic perspective. Nonetheless they have been criticised for being ‘unproductive’ capital in that they are used in the ‘receiving’ country to make basic purchases.
Ahmed refutes this and says that as well as covering expenses such as school fees, food or medical bills, a big chunk of remittance payments goes to starting new businesses, investing in land and property.
Existing Signal users might be getting more notifications than usual. “Jack is on Signal,” “Cathy is on Signal,” “Miriam is on Signal,” all pings showing phone contacts who are joining the secure messaging app. Those pings reflect the fact that there’s been an influx of new users. Known for its end-to-end encryption and independent structure as a non-profit organization run by a foundation — not a big tech company — Signal has previously been the communication method of choice for activists, people in the … Continue reading What is Signal? The basics of the most secure messaging app.→
7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator manual for strengthening your power position as elected leader. January 7 2021 As a democratically elected leader, getting absolute power is no easy feat. Just look at Hitler, or more recently, at Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Russia’s Putin, or Turkey’s Erdogan. Here are some helpful tips for a prolonged iron rule. 1. Expand your power base through nepotism and corruption. This is not just a tactic adopted in third world countries. Scandals like Bridgegate, Koreagate, Monicagate and Watergate demonstrate … Continue reading Hot to be a DICTATOR? 7 Steps to Becoming a Dictator→
Africa needs journalism that innovates and supports innovation in a modernizing continent, he says, one that not only grows, but promotes growth and the development of society. It needs journalism that not only generates the ideas that are the engine of social transformation, but also moderates the debates that emerge from these societal changes. Digital media and journalism as a sector is evolving, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the field. However, Aspiring journalists have to build their experience and gather … Continue reading Impact of Social Media on Political Mobilization in East and West Africa→
6 Psychological Reasons Why You Feel So Emotional All the Time #1: Unchecked expectations Shakir Essa 10/17/2020 · 10 min read Why am I so emotional? has to be one of the most frequently asked questions I hear as a psychologist. But it’s a tricky question to answer, primarily for two reasons: Many different factors affect how we feel emotionally. Everything from your genetics and attachment style to what you ate for breakfast and how much sleep you got last night play some role in how you feel … Continue reading Reasons Why You Feel So Emotional All the Time→
A ballot-harvesting racket in Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Minneapolis district — where paid workers illegally gather absentee ballots from elderly Somali immigrants — appears to have been busted by undercover news organization Project Veritas.
One alleged ballot harvester, Liban Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis city council member Jamal Osman, is shown in a bombshell Snapchat video rifling through piles of ballots strewn across his dashboard.
“Just today we got 300 for Jamal Osman,” says Mohamed, aka KingLiban1, in the video. “I have 300 ballots in my car right now . . .
“Numbers don’t lie. You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots. . . . Look, all these are for Jamal Osman,” he says, displaying the white envelopes.
The video, posted on July 1, was obtained by Project Veritas and included in a 17-minute video expose released Sunday night.
Under Minnesota law no individual can be the “designated agent” for more than three absentee voters.
The allegations come just five weeks before a presidential election plagued with predictions of voter fraud. Both President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have warned that the increased use of mail-in ballots, due to COVID-19 concerns about in-person voting, are vulnerable to fraud, especially when unsolicited ballots are mailed to all voters in certain states.
Project Veritas’ investigation in Minneapolis will pour gasoline on the fire, only 48 hours before Trump debates Joe Biden in the first presidential debate Tuesday, addressing topics including election security.
“Our investigation into this ballot harvesting ring demonstrates clearly how these unscrupulous operators exploit the elderly and immigrant communities” said James O’Keefe, founder and CEO of Project Veritas.
The alleged involvement of Ilhan Omar, a controversial member of the Squad, and frequent Trump target, is claimed on camera by two people in Veritas’ investigation, including whistleblower Omar Jamal, a Minneapolis community leader and chair of the city’s Somali Watchdog Group.
He claims Mohamed is “one of” Ilhan Omar’s “many people.”
“It’s an open secret. She will do anything that she can do to get elected and she has hundreds of people on the streets doing that,” he told Veritas in an on-camera interview last Tuesday.
“It’s not only her. It’s all this DFL [Democratic-Farmers-Labor] machine [that’s] in . . . the state of Minnesota . . .
Also implicating Ilhan Omar’s campaign in the scheme is an anonymous Minneapolis-based former political worker, who told Project Veritas that, before Minnesota’s primary elections, August 8, ballot harvesters “took every single ballot” from elderly people in a Minneapolis public housing complex — the Charles Horn Towers.
“Knock on the door and say, ‘your ballots come? Give it to me.’ ”
She alleges Ilhan Omar’s long-serving staffer, campaign deputy district director Ali (Isse) Gainey, was “coordinating everything.”
Gainey, “who is working in Ilhan’s campaign, is the one who is managing the voting place. They bring them. They line them. They put the open ballots in there and then they take them in and say, ‘Here,’ and the people mark [the ballots] . . .
She also alleged that young people and women were paid for their ballots before last month’s Minnesota primary.
“Cash, cash, cash. They were carrying bags of money. . . . When you vote and they mark you off, then you get in the van, they give you the cash.”
Federal laws forbid paying someone to vote or register to vote, or intimidating voters.
Jamal, who has worked with Minnesota’s Ramsey County Sherriff’s Office on deradicalization education, helped Project Veritas investigators unveil what he calls “ongoing election fraud” which victimizes his community. He secretly recorded conversations with alleged ballot harvester Mohamed and a member of the DFL, Minnesota’s version of the Democratic party.
In one call, Mohamed allegedly explains ballot harvesting: “You request for the ballot. It will be sent to your house. You will fill it out and then send it.”
Omar asks: “So they request for the elderly?”
Mohamed says: “Yes, they request for them.”
Omar: “And it is taken away from them?”
Mohamed: “Yes, it is taken away from them.”
In another call, Mohamed says: “I’m working for Jamal Osman [who is] running for city council in Minneapolis. That’s my young brother.”
Osman, a member of the DFL, won the Ward 6 race for Minneapolis City Council in August.
Another grab from Mohamed’s Snapchat with the time stamp 1:59 am, July 2, shows a man brandishing a wad of about 30 ballots with the words “OFFICIAL ABSENTEE BALLOT” on the front of envelopes. “Two in the morning, still hustling,” he says.
Project Veritas’ investigation raises serious concerns about the security of mail-in ballots, and intimidation of vulnerable voters.
While FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate last week, “we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election,” troubling examples have arisen in recent months.
In Paterson, New Jersey, two officials were charged with election fraud last month after hundreds of mail-in-ballots were discarded. In Pennsylvania, nine military ballots from the 2016 election, most for Trump, were found in a dumpster, it was revealed last week.
In her speech in the Rose Garden Saturday to accept the president’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the 48-year-old mother of seven paid tribute to her husband of 21 years, Jesse Barrett.
“At the start of our marriage, I imagined that we would run our household as partners.
“As it has turned out, Jesse does far more than his share of the work. To my chagrin, I learned at dinner recently that my children consider him to be the better cook!
“For 21 years, Jesse has asked me every single morning what he can do for me that day. And though I almost always say, ‘Nothing,’ he still finds ways to take things off my plate.
“And that’s not because he has a lot of free time. He has a busy law practice. It is because he is a superb and generous husband, and I am very fortunate”.
It must be disappointing for leftists that this is not the “Handmaid’s Tale” nightmare they like to paint of faithful Christian marriages, but a respectful partnership, with mutual generosity and love, between a woman who does not deny her femininity and a man who has not sacrificed his masculinity.
Successful marriages are not celebrated enough, and yet they are everything to a healthy society.
ILHAN OMAR’S MINNEAPOLIS DISTRICT — WHERE PAID WORKERS ILLEGALLY GATHER ABSENTEE BALLOTS FROM ELDERLY SOMALI IMMIGRANTS
Wheelchair-bound Abdihakim Osman came forward last month to confirm to DailyMail.com that Ilhan Omar married her own brother
A woman close to Omar has posted a YouTube video packed with degrading insults about Osman
Malyun Ali pressed members of her Somali-American clan to go after him
‘Why are you not protecting us from this nasty man who is composed only of a head and a stomach,’ she said
Osman has a ‘big bell, small udder, pillar-like head’, she added, and mocked his disability which was caused by contracting polio as a child in Somalia
‘Why don’t you stop this crippled dog?,’ she asked
Osman has made a complaint to the Minneapolis police
The man who came forward to say on the record that leftist congresswoman Ilhan Omar married her own brother has told DailyMail.com he is now in fear for his life.
A woman close to Omar posted a YouTube video packed with degrading insults about wheelchair-bound Abdihakim Osman and pressed members of her Somali-American clan to go after him.
Abdihakim Osman says he has been threatened since blogger Malyun Ali posted a video on YouTube inciting members of her clan to go after him +20 Abdihakim Osman says he has been threatened since blogger Malyun Ali posted a video on YouTube inciting members of her clan to go after him Osman has made a complaint to police in Minneapolis and repeatedly demanded that YouTube take down the offending video — which was met with silence from the media giant until DailyMail.com asked why it was still on the site.
It finally removed it on March 10, replacing it with a note saying: ‘This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.’
In the video, the woman, Malyun Ali, asked members of Omar’s Majeerteen clan ‘What is wrong with you?
Witten in the Somali language and translated of a special in African languages at the University
‘Why are you not protecting us from this nasty man who is composed only of a head and a stomach,’ she added, insulting his disabled status.
‘You Majeerteen men…why don’t you defend us from this person…this fat ram who gets money taken from the taxes we pay.’
She went on to say Osman has a ‘big bell, small udder, pillar-like head’ and mocked his disability which was caused by contracting polio as a child in Somalia.
‘You Majeerteen men, we despise you,’ she added, talking to her clan members. ‘You are letting this ox seated on the ground harass us.
‘Why don’t you stop this crippled dog?’
Ali did not respond to an email sent by DailyMail.com for comment. Instead she posted the email on her Facebook page under a picture of herself captioned: ‘I cannot be silenced.’
Ilhan Omar and Abdihakim Osman, here during her 2016 election campaign for he Minnesota House of Representatives, had been close friends for years. +20
Osman, 40, came forward last month in a DailyMail.com exclusive to confirm that Omar, a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota, had married her own brother, Ahmed Elmi, to allow him to get student loans in the United States.
Elmi and Omar both went to North Dakota State University.
Osman said Elmi suddenly appeared in the Somali community in Minneapolis in the late 2000s and both Omar and her then-husband Ahmed Hirsi told him that Elmi was her brother.
He said no-one knew they had married until the press uncovered their marriage certificate many years later, which showed they had gone to a Christian minister to perform the service even though they are both Muslim.
Osman was particularly close to Hirsi — the father of Omar’s three children — and occasionally helped out at his hookah bar.
Now though, he says he is living in fear. ‘I am very careful where I go. I have changed all my routines, he told DailyMail.com through an interpreter.
‘I am sure they will do something and make it look random. I am very worried and I am very scared. But I want to make it clear — I’m pre-reporting so when it does happen people will know it is because of this video.’
He said he believes followers of Ali — a popular Somali YouTube personality — will eventually get him.
‘They will retaliate either by setting me up for a crime or something or they will physically harm me,’ he said.
‘YouTube will have to bear the consequences if anything happens to me. I am a disabled man and she is threatening me. It has been shared thousands of times,’ he said before the video was removed.
YouTube only took down Ali’s post after DailyMail.com asked the company, part of the giant Google empire, why it was still on the site
It has long been rumored that Omar and Elmi (pictured) are siblings, but because of a lack of paperwork in war-torn Somalia, positive proof has never been uncovered +20 It has long been rumored that Omar and Elmi (pictured) are siblings, but because of a lack of paperwork in war-torn Somalia, positive proof has never been uncovered Osman said: ‘When [Hirsi] and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited. It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community. I would say there were 100-150 people there.’ But, he said: ‘When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it.’ Pictured: Omar (left) with Elmi (right) +20 Osman said: ‘When [Hirsi] and Ilhan got married, a lot of people were invited. It was a big Islamic wedding uniting two large clans in the Minneapolis community. I would say there were 100-150 people there.’ But, he said: ‘When she married Elmi, no one even knew about it.’ Pictured: Omar (left) with Elmi (right) ‘Squad’ congresswoman Ilhan Omar told friends years ago that the man who went on to become her second husband was in fact her brother, DailyMail.com can confirm. And now for the first time one of those friends has come forward to reveal exactly how Omar and Ahmed Elmi scandalized Minneapolis’s large Somali community – while she was still married to her first husband Ahmed Hirsi (pictured together) +20 ‘Squad’ congresswoman Ilhan Omar told friends years ago that the man who went on to become her second husband was in fact her brother, DailyMail.com can confirm. And now for the first time one of those friends has come forward to reveal exactly how Omar and Ahmed Elmi scandalized Minneapolis’s large Somali community – while she was still married to her first husband Ahmed Hirsi (pictured together) Elmi and Omar married on February 12, 2009 at a Hennepin County office in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis, their license shows. The marriage was conducted by Christian minister Wilecia Harris. When DailyMail.com approached her last year, she would not discuss the ceremony or why a Muslim couple would have asked her to marry them +20 Elmi and Omar married on February 12, 2009 at a Hennepin County office in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis, their license shows. The marriage was conducted by Christian minister Wilecia Harris. When DailyMail.com approached her last year, she would not discuss the ceremony or why a Muslim couple would have asked her to marry them A company spokeswoman told DailyMail.com: ‘Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of our community.’
Despite the threats he has received, Osman said he does not regret his decision to come forward and tell what he says is the truth about 37-year-old Omar.
‘I decided to out her and to use my name and I am proud and happy that I did.’
Osman is a member of the Dhulbahante clan, many of whom resent the Majeerteen for allegedly lording it over them for too long. ‘The Majeerteen think they’re royalty,’ one Somali leader said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s second husband was her brother Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00 Play Current Time0:00 / Duration Time0:22 Fullscreen Hirsi, Omar’s ex-husband, is a member of a third clan, the Habargidir. He has kept quiet since he and the congresswoman divorced in November, leading to claims he received a six-figure settlement to stay mum. Soon after the agreement was reached he swapped out his old Nissan Maxima for a BMW 528i, which sells for $54,000 new.
Omar is believed to have received a large advance for her memoir This Is What America Looks Like which is due out in May.
The divorce came after DailyMail.com revealed that Omar was having an affair with her chief fundraiser, Tim Mynett. Mynett and his wife Beth Jordan divorced in December.
In his only public comment, Hirsi posted on Facebook last month: ‘Ilhan and I had an amicable divorce. We are focused on being great parents to our children. That is the most important thing to us.’
He said he has not and will not attack his ex-wife or back any of her three primary rivals. ‘I am not supporting or involved in the campaigns of any of Ilhan’s opponents, contrary to what you might hear,’ he wrote.
Facebook photos of Somalian YouTube star Malyun Ali, who said Rep. Ilhan Omar is free to marry 50 men if she wants to +20 Facebook photos of Somalian YouTube star Malyun Ali, who said Rep. Ilhan Omar is free to marry 50 men if she wants to Ali Feer, who refers to herself as M. M. S (Mama Malyun Suuban), pronounces her nickname like a rapper promoting her album and then adds, “BAM!” +20 Ali Feer, who refers to herself as M. M. S (Mama Malyun Suuban), pronounces her nickname like a rapper promoting her album and then adds, “BAM!” Abdihakim Osman (pictured with Hirsi) is the first person to go on record to speak of how Omar said she wanted to get her brother papers so he could stay in the United States, at a time when she was married to Ahmed Hirsi. But hardly anyone realized that meant marrying him +20 Abdihakim Osman (pictured with Hirsi) is the first person to go on record to speak of how Omar said she wanted to get her brother papers so he could stay in the United States, at a time when she was married to Ahmed Hirsi. But hardly anyone realized that meant marrying him ‘No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later,’ Osman, 40, told DailyMail.com +20 ‘No one knew there had been a wedding until the media turned up the marriage certificate years later,’ Osman, 40, told DailyMail.com ‘Using our divorce to go after Ilhan isn’t something I will even condone.’
Osman said since his interview he has received support from Hirsi’s clan. ‘I have had Habargidir come up and kiss me in the supermarket. I now go to where the Habargidir go, the same coffee shops and malls.
‘I have even changed my mosque,’ he added.
Ali’s video is the culmination of a long-running feud between her and Osman, who runs a popular Somali-language Facebook blog called Xerta Skekh. ‘They are both people who like to stir things up,’ another Somali leader said.
Osman said his page has been inundated with threatening messages since DailyMail.com published his accusations about Omar. Many, he said, are purporting to be from people with Anglicized names, but he believes they are Somalis with false accounts.
One man, using the name Allan Landman, posted a message saying: ‘Shariah law will allow his accusers to kill him.’
‘That’s ironic,’ said Osman. ‘Ilhan Omar having an affair with a married man is much more against Shariah law than anything I have done.’
He also said Omar supporters have threatened to report him to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority for his anti-gay postings, in a bid to get him kicked out of his home.
Osman, who describes himself as a devout Sunni Muslim — he broke away from the interview to pray at one point — admits he is anti-gay rights because Islam forbids homosexuality. ‘It is haram,’ he said, using the Islamic term for a prohibited activity.
In her video, Ali describes herself as Omar’s aunt, but sources say the
two are not blood relations, merely members of the same clan.
‘But a clan relative is just as close as a real relative,’ one Somali leader told DailyMail.com. ‘She is insulting the men of her own clan, calling them effeminate for not doing anything about what Abdi has said.’
Ilhan Omar’s ex-husband has officially remarried Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00 Play Current Time0:00 / Duration Time0:58 Fullscreen Osman is a member of the Dhulbahante clan, many of whom resent the Majeerteen for allegedly lording it over them for too long. ‘The Majeerteen think they’re royalty,’ one Somali leader said +20 Osman is a member of the Dhulbahante clan, many of whom resent the Majeerteen for allegedly lording it over them for too long. ‘The Majeerteen think they’re royalty,’ one Somali leader said Malyun Ali is an American citizen, who lived in Minneapolis for several years before relocating to Arizona. More recently she has been living in Kenya. +20 Malyun Ali is an American citizen, who lived in Minneapolis for several years before relocating to Arizona. More recently she has been living in Kenya. Malyun Ali is an American citizen, who lived in Minneapolis for several years before relocating to Arizona. More recently she has been living in Kenya. +20 Malyun Ali is an American citizen, who lived in Minneapolis for several years before relocating to Arizona. More recently she has been living in Kenya. YouTube eventually took down Malyun Ali’s video on March 10, nearly three weeks after it was first posted, saying it violated the company’s policy on harassment and bullying +20 YouTube eventually took down Malyun Ali’s video on March 10, nearly three weeks after it was first posted, saying it violated the company’s policy on harassment and bullying In the video, Ali, speaking in Somali, said: ‘I am addressing the wise Majeerteen elders and the religiously educated men, why are you watching this crushed metal can-like man abuse us?
‘Don’t we have young men? Don’t we have elders? If we fail to be protected by the law, we better be protected by your five fingers,’ she said using a Somali phrase meaning personal strength.
‘Oh, you Majeerteen men in the streets, stop this man from what he is doing. You are camped in the town of Minnea-hopeless from which I moved because of curses. May the curse be on you.
‘Why are you afraid? Are you afraid of being arrested? Are you afraid of prison?’
She also accused Osman of being an alcoholic and a drug addict, both of which would go against the tenets of Islam. ‘I have never had a single drink of alcohol or taken any illegal drugs,’ Osman said.
‘Even when I go to a hookah bar I only smoke the nicotine-free stuff.’
Ali is an American citizen, who lived in Minneapolis for several years before relocating to Arizona. More recently she has been living in Kenya. She runs her YouTube page under the pseudonym MMS —Mama Malyun Suuban. Suuban was her mother’s maiden name.
Osman did not claim that Ilhan Omar herself is behind the threats or knew of them in advance.
When allegations that Omar’s husband was also her brother first appeared, the congresswoman said the idea that the spouses were also siblings were ‘baseless, absurd rumors’, accusing journalists of Islamophobia, but has since stayed quiet.
Her spokesman now says she does not discuss her personal life, ignoring the fact that marriage fraud is a federal crime.
In her video attacking Osman, Ali barely addressed that controversy: ‘He said she married one man — let her marry 50. She has her freedom.’
Bihi refused to meet with “the oppressive ambassador
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Somaliland’s president has reportedly rejected a conditional offer by a delegation of Chinese “wolf warrior” diplomats to cut ties with Taiwan, and added that he is taking steps to strengthen relations with the country.
On Monday (Aug. 3), news broke that President Muse Bihi Abdi has directed “close confidants” to examine ways of bolstering Somaliland’s relations with Taiwan, including “the possibility of mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland.” On Tuesday, reports surfaced that a Chinese delegation would visit Somaliland on Wednesday (Aug. 5), while China’s ambassador, Qin Jian (覃儉), has reportedly been in the self-ruled state since Saturday (Aug. 1) attempting to arrange a meeting with Bihi.
Researcher and analyst Rashid Abdi on Tuesday posted a tweet in which he wrote that Qin “started putting on the ‘warrior diplomacy’ act and threatening Somaliland,” but that Bihi rebuffed his tactics and hours later ordered his ministry of foreign affairs to begin the process of recognizing Taiwan. Twitter account Somalia News on Wednesday stated local reports indicated that Bihi refused to meet with “the oppressive ambassador.”
On Thursday (Aug. 6), the Somaliland Chronicle cited government sources as saying that Bihi met with the delegation, which included Qin, for several hours. During the meeting, the Chinese side offered a development deal which included road and airport infrastructure projects and the installation of a liaison office in Somaliland on the condition that Bihi sever ties with Taiwan.
Bihi reportedly rejected the Chinese offer and informed them that rather than cut ties with Taiwan, his country is actually “working to strengthen diplomatic ties with Taiwan.” The newspaper on Monday reported the president has ordered an analysis of the TAIPEI Act, which was signed into law in the U.S. in March, and to present him with options and an assessment of “the pros and cons of unilateral recognition of Taiwan.”
What is of particular interest to Bihi is Section 3, Item 2 of the TAIPEI ACT, which states that the U.S. government should consider “increasing its economic, security, and diplomatic engagement with nations that have demonstrably strengthened, enhanced, or upgraded relations with Taiwan.” Bihi’s government may be particularly emboldened after the White House National Security Council (NSC) on July 10 posted a tweet lauding Taiwan for increasing its engagement in East Africa and included a link to a U.S. News & World Report article announcing the establishment of Taiwan-Somaliland ties.
In response to reports of Somaliland considering diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) on Monday said the ministry does not comment on reports by the Somaliland media that have not cited their sources. She added that MOFA and its Somaliland counterpart will “continue to consult on establishing future bilateral cooperation plans based on the principle of mutual benefit and reciprocity and to promote the economy and people’s livelihoods.”
When Tsai took office in 2016, she refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus and only acknowledged that the 1992 Taiwan-China talks were a “historical fact.” In response, China has been seeking to punish Taiwan by stealing away diplomatic allies through its debt-trap diplomacy tactics.
Since the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Chinese diplomats have started to lash out at critics and attempt to intimidate their counterparts with a new “wolf warrior” ploy. The term “wolf warrior” refers to a Chinese propaganda film that depicts People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers fighting foreign mercenaries who are led by a character named “Tom Cat.”
Shakir Essa served as manager at somaliland press media and Somali news tv
In the popular imagination, Somali women are viewed as passive, oppressed subjects, the hapless victims of their patriarchal culture and religion. Where they are visible, it is often through the iconography of the veil and female circumcision.
Lula Ali Ismaïl’s Dhalinyaro (Youth)—the first full-length feature film by a Djiboutian woman—is a radical departure from this corpus in depicting Somali girlhood in its full depth and complexity. Most importantly, it does this through depicting the mundane events of everyday life in Djibouti City. There are no wars here, or pirates, or terrorists, no young women escaping fathers, husbands, or the blade of a female elder, no white saviors ready for the rescue. What we see in Dhalinyaro is a coming of age story that shows Somali girls as they are.
The film’s storyline revolves around the final qualification examination for Djiboutian secondary students to enter university, the baccalaureate. The three main characters, Deka, Hibo, and Asma, are classmates at the Lycée de Djibouti but hail from markedly different class backgrounds. The Lycée space becomes one where the different segments of Djibouti’s population interact and form friendships, bonding over the shared ritual of studying for the baccalaureate. Yet, it is the question of higher education that renders class divides most explicit. For wealthy Hibo, who arrives at the Lycée each day in a chauffeured private car, there is no question that she will continue her education in Paris. Deka, who is securely middle class, is less certain, but with the funds saved up by her mother over a number of years, the idea of going to France for university is within the realm of the possible. Asma has no such choices available to her; poverty dictates that she must stay in Djibouti, unless she is among the few top students to receive a scholarship to study abroad.
The palpable burden of class difference saturates the film. One shot silently juxtaposes a well-dressed man at a cafe with a young boy on the street as he hands his shoes to the child to polish while drinking coffee. In another shot, women in wide-brimmed sun hats sweep the city streets at dusk to the sounds of ciyaar Soomaali, a traditional Somali folk dance. It is palpable in Asma’s hesitation to attend Hibo’s birthday party at the luxury Djibouti Palace Kempinski, and in the fuul bean stew her family eats at mealtimes, like the poor neighborhood children that come to Deka’s home for bread. When Hibo gets into an altercation with a group of schoolgirls outside of the Lycée, she disparages them as the “stupid Balabois”—residents of the impoverished Balbala suburb. An angered Asma, who tells her that she is “one of them,” accuses Hibo of believing that her wealth gives her more rights. Over the course of the film, Hibo’s character arc moves from a sheltered and careless rich girl to a more understanding and self-sufficient individual, a transformation made possible by honest friendships across difference.
The stunning cinematography with long shots of the sea and glimpses of the Port of Djibouti subtly signals the confluence and contradictions of global wealth and local poverty. This infrastructure of state capitalism—and, at the end of the film, the national radio broadcasting examination results—are the only glimpses of the state or politics in Dhalinyaro. Djibouti is among the most enduring dictatorships in Africa, ruled by an extended family since its independence from France in 1977. Its ruler, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, is famously a patron of the arts and culture, and Lula Ali Ismaïl has described the support she received for the film from both the private sector and a government eager to develop the country’s nascent film industry. While one can wonder about the possible implications of this government hand for artistic freedom, Ismaïl’s decision not to engage formal politics explicitly is another subversive act of representation, given that the region is mired in images of political dysfunction. Ismaïl’s political critique is muted and indirect, but no less searing. It takes the form of a city-wide power outage that forces the “haves” to turn on their private generators and the “have-nots” to light lanterns; it is in the figure of the elderly veteran telling Deka the forgotten stories of Djiboutian soldiers who fought for France during the Second World War; it is, at the metalevel, what the film itself embodies in its very existence, in its very refusal to conform.
What Dhalinyaro foregrounds is female sociality and intimacy as it unravels the complex layers of contemporary Djiboutian life. The film has a decidedly female gaze, decentering maleness to the extent that most of the male characters in the film remain marginal and unnamed. Instead, it is the inner worlds of Somali women that are fleshed out in full, and with the immense care and tenderness of a Somali woman behind the camera. When Hibo has a miscarriage in a bathroom stall at school, it is the conservatively-dressed Asma who immediately removes her abaya to cover her friend’s blood-stained clothing, stating that “girls look out for each other.” They openly discuss sexuality and their relationships, the lively female banter reminiscent of the Somali riwaayad (play) and theater tradition that has pushed the envelope on notions of female morality and modesty in Somali society since the 1960s. Markers of Somali womanhood are interspersed throughout the film: the breezy dirac shiid worn as loungewear at home, the fragrant uunsi smoke used to perfume one’s household, clothing and hair, the huruud face masks made of turmeric to keep one’s skin soft.
At the heart of Dhalinyaro is the tension between visibility and invisibility in the desire for a particular kind of freedom. In an early scene, Deka, Hibo, and Asma quietly talk at their desks as their teacher—played by Lula Ali Ismaïl herself—explains the upcoming deadlines for students seeking to go abroad for university. “Think of the freedom!” Deka whispers to her friends, “no one holding you to account, no one looking at you and saying ‘you’re the daughter of so and so.’” These moments of recognition occur most often in their encounters with men. As the girls sit by the waterfront and jokingly evaluate the appearances of young men passing by, a man pauses and greets Hibo, telling her to say hello to her father for him. “There’s no getting away!” an exasperated Hibo tells her friends. In another scene, the searching glance of a male waiter at a restaurant where Deka is having an intimate dinner with the older married man she is seeing is enough to unsettle her and abruptly end the date. Yet, it is the same surveilling gaze—this time by women—that precipitates the end to the predatory relationship, after Deka’s mother hears about it. The communal nature of the Somali social world, while frustrating any notion of individual anonymity, fosters a sense of interdependence and female solidarity that uplifts the girls in times of need, as their friendship illustrates. Ultimately, Deka chooses this world by staying in Djibouti for university.
Ethnicity is conspicuously absent from the film. Djibouti, while dominated politically, culturally and demographically by Somalis, is a multi-ethnic country comprised of the Somali and Afar, as well as smaller communities of Arabs, Ethiopians and Europeans. That diversity is represented in the casting, with the three lead actresses themselves belonging to Djibouti’s different ethnic groups: one is Afar, one is Somali, and one is Arab Somali. Yet each plays a Somali character, in a Djibouti where only Somali people and culture appear to exist. However, there is some ambiguity to Hibo’s background that is not discernible to the non-Somali speaker and flattened by the limited subtitles. In the scene where Hibo is confronted on the schoolyard, a voice in the background, which does not make it into the subtitles, can be heard saying “the little Arab girl is being attacked!” in Somali. Her father, in other scenes, speaks one or two words of Arabic, albeit words that have entered the Somali lexicon. Asma and Deka’s households are completely immersed in their Somaliness, with illustrative scenes including Asma’s sisters playing jag on the veranda as their mother gives them advice using Somali proverbs, and Deka’s single mother listening to gabay poetry composed by a heartbroken Cilmi Boodhari. Hibo’s family, on the other hand, only speaks Somali at home when talking to their maid; they converse in French exclusively between themselves, listen to European classical music during formal dinners, and go to France for education. There is an unexamined politics of language and ethnicity yearning to be explored.
Dhalinyaro is a remarkable feat, particularly for a first full-length film by a self-taught filmmaker hailing from a country with a film industry still in its infancy. Though initially released in 2018, it has recently seen a surge in popularity when it was made available for free streaming as part of this year’s Cinewax Online African Film Festival, breaking OAFF streaming records. It is a beautiful film—a love letter to Somali girls—that deserves to be seen widely.
When it comes to weddings, Somalia has many approaches. Some couples stick with tradition while others go for more modern marriage ceremonies.
This film tells the story of two weddings, one in a small desert village and the other in a busy city, while highlighting everyday life in different parts of the country. It also contrasts traditional ways of life with modern ideas that come from younger Somalis and social media.
In the remote rural village of Toon, herder Jamalli Muhammad Ahmed can only marry a local woman called Hoda after first getting permission from her family. In a tradition going back generations, they all gather in the shade of a large tree to decide whether they are a suitable match. Only then can Jamalli and Hoda start planning their lives together.
Jamalli and Hoda’s wedding followed traditional Somali customs [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
Abdullatif Deeq Omar in Hargeisa city, however, first met his future wife Najma on Facebook. They eloped but eventually returned to their families who accepted their marriage plans.
Abdullatif and Najma’s ceremony was in the city of Hargeisa [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
Both weddings have the same pressures: buying outfits, inviting guests, finding a venue and arranging feasts – but each tells a unique story of family, community and tradition.
In Somali culture, many people also believe that getting married in the run-up to Ramadan ensures additional blessings on the couple, making the happy occasion even more special.
Ethiopia admits shooting down Kenya aid aircraft in Somalia The plane had been carrying humanitarian and medical supplies to help the country fight the spread of coronavirus.
09 May 2020 GMT+3 Ethiopia on Saturday admitted it was behind the shooting down of a privately owned Kenyan plane in Somalia earlier this week, resulting in the deaths of all six people on board. The plane was shot down on Monday by Ethiopian troops protecting a camp in the town of Bardale in southwestern Somalia, the Ethiopian army said in a statement to the African Union (AU). More: Six killed as plane carrying coronavirus aid crashes in Somalia Anger in Mogadishu after police kill civilian in COVID-19 curfew Somali state minister dies from coronavirus The aircraft had been carrying humanitarian and medical supplies to help the country fight the spread of coronavirus when it went down in Bardale, about 300km (180 miles) northwest of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The Ethiopian soldiers mistakenly believed the plane was on a “potential suicide mission” because they had not been informed about the “unusual flight” and the aircraft was flying low, the statement said. “Because of lack of communication and awareness, the aircraft was shot down,” the military said. “The incident … will require mutual collaborative investigation team from Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya to further understand the truth.” Kenya expressed shock over the incident earlier this week, saying the plane’s mission had been to aid Somalia in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Soldiers from Ethiopia and Kenya are among those deployed to Somalia as part of an AU peacekeeping mission to fight the armed group al-Shabab. The shooting down of the plane comes amid strained ties between Kenya and Somalia. Last month, Kenya accused Somali troops of an “unwarranted attack” across its border near Mandera, a northern outpost town, describing the incident as a provocation. Somalia, meanwhile, has long accused its larger neighbour of meddling in its internal affairs, something Kenya has denied.
Kenya has started negotiating a withdrawal from Somalia by 2021. The country is set to leave as Ethiopia’s influence continues to rise.
Kenya has achieved a lot since it intervened in 2011. Its intervention was a “game changer”, contributing to a momentum that led to al-Shabaab losing all major Somali cities. But it has fallen short of its goals to subdue al-Shabaab and end terrorism in Kenya. And it will leave a Somalia where its rivals are gaining power and challenging Kenyan national interests.
Kenya’s public motive for intervening in 2011 was self-defence. Its defence forces moved into Somalia to stop al-Shabaab attacks and improve the country’s internal security. Since then, al-Shabaab has lost territorial control over all of Somalia’s larger cities. In 2012, Kenya reclaimed Kismayo. In the same year, it convinced Ethiopia to join the fight.
The combined forces of Kenya and Ethiopia were redeployed under the African Union Mission to Somalia. This was crucial in containing al-Shabaab between 2012 and 2016. This combined force weakened the terror group to the point that it is now unable to hold territories within Somali cities.
By late 2019, al-Shabaab’s infiltration in Kenya’s northeast intensified, and locals are increasingly accommodating their presence.
The situation in the area around the coastal town of Lamu is similar. Al-Shabaab is taking advantage of animosities between the Muslim Bajunis and the Christian elite who settled in the area in the 1970s.
Broadly speaking, Kenya has managed to curtail al-Shabaab activities in trouble spots in Kilifi and Mombasa. The country also managed to return a large number of foreign fighters to Somalia without much blow-back. Yet the intervention of 2011 failed to keep Kenya completely safe.
Nor did it fully vanquish al-Shabaab. The group is still strong, despite having lost much of its territory. It is richer than ever, propelled by its efficient taxing of the Somali business community, tolled checkpoints and investments, including some in the agricultural sector. Its leadership structure remains intact, with many key officers having served more than four years.
Kenya’s withdrawal from Somalia will have its own drawbacks. For one, it will abandon its long-time allies inside Somalia. Thus, it will lose leverage with both Addis Ababa and Mogadishu.
The government of Somalia’s president, known as Farmajo, has increasingly been at odds with Kenya. The two countries are currently in a diplomatic row over their shared maritime border.
Second, Farmajo’s agenda to place his preferred candidates in political office in Somalia’s regional states has challenged Kenya’s allies in Somalia and especially the regional state of Jubaland.
It has become clear that Farmajo is willing to draw Ethiopian forces as well as the Somali National Army into his quest to consolidate power by appointing political allies. This has pitched Ethiopia against Kenya, and created tension. Ethiopian forces have recently intervened in support of the Somali government in Mogadishu, targeting the enemies of the Farmajo government. That government has been increasingly willing to use military force against the opposition (as well as the Somali media, and against the regional state of Jubaland, led by Kenyan ally Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe”.
Kenya leaves a Somalia where neighbouring Ethiopia plays an increasing role, and also works against Kenya’s former allies. Also, there are stronger totalitarian tendencies on the part of the Somali presidency than before.
Its withdrawal will leave Ethiopia with a dominating position in the African Union Mission to Somalia. As Ethiopia’s alliance with Farmajo is strong, this is bad news for the Somali opposition, including allies of Kenya.
By withdrawing, Kenya has also let its allies down. It has shown that it cannot be trusted to stay the course. Yet the withdrawal follows a wider pattern in Kenyan politics, wherein the 2011 intervention was the exception.
Things look grim for independent journalism in Somalia. This can also be concluded from the country’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index: close to the bottom of the list of 180 countries. Still, the local situation does vary from region to region. In the south in particular, journalists work in fear of their life. But in the country’s northern region, Somaliland, our team do everything in their power to support and train local Somali reporters.
Envelope full of money
A journalist is interviewing a politician or businessman. At the end, the interviewee offers the reporter an envelope full of money. And if he doesn’t, the reporter asks for one himself. In Somalia, this practice has a name: Sharuur. And virtually every journalist takes part in it. The result: nearly all media reports in the country are biased and distorted. After all, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. This means that people in Somalia have next to no access to reliable and factual information.
Journalists in Somalia run tremendous risks. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in the past four years alone, 21 reporters in Somalia were murdered and dozens arrested in the course of their work. Nevertheless, you can still find people in the country who want to report on what is really going on, people who have the courage to refuse the stuffed envelope. We bring them together, at a location where they are safe, and train them in objective reporting.
In addition to organising trainings, at the Media Training Centre we also produce three new editions per week of the news and current affairs programme Radio Hirad. This programme includes contributions from journalists trained at our Centre. The programme is broadcast by over 20 FM stations and websites. While most journalists in Somalia are mainly interested in reporting on political developments, Radio Hirad has a strong focus on social issues. Themes like health, the position of women and adolescents in society and migration feature prominently in the broadcasts. This way, we help people who are seldom heard to share their perspectives and bring sensitive yet important topics up for discussion.
In Somali culture, the name hirad is given to those who offer travellers safe shelter and food. Free Press Unlimited in turn wishes to support the hirads of the Somali media: the journalists who work to keep the public informed in this country torn by war and corruption.
Women and Media
During a training in 2015, a young woman told how she has to hide the fact that she is a reporter from her family. “My father doesn’t know that I’m here. He doesn’t know that I’m working as a journalist. If he did, he would forbid me from doing so.” Women are underrepresented in the Somali media. As a result, subjects that are specifically relevant to them get very little exposure. We try to attract female journalists to our trainings, and support them in their work. And our efforts are starting to bear fruit. Over the past year, many of the women whom we have trained at the Centre have moved up to the position of radio station manager and made a name for themselves as journalists.
Somali media creator and journalist , Shakir Essa
Reports by Shakir Essa
Shakir Essa served as manager at somaliland press media and Somali news tv
Get in touch with the shakir essa posts, videos, news article's, He is the presenter of both africa times news (sub saharan africa) and digital media creator(infographics video). shakir is a senior contributor at the africa times news (afrika-times.com