Every Wednesday and Friday we would have a family picnic 10km away from Kismayu.
Here, the Juba river connects to the Indian Ocean and I would splash about in the water with my cousins whilst the adults prepared the food. These are the happiest memories I have. Safety and happiness were replaced with fear and peril.
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Even now, all these years later, I can still remember the panic of hearing the militant soldiers patrol our village, k nowing that this was a life-or-death situation as they invaded our home. Left with no other choice, I fled to Kenya with all the family I had left. Hoping to finally remember what safety feels like, we were taken in as refugees by the Kenyan government.
We were given asylum, and, finally, there was hope. After years of watching the civil war tear our home apart, Kenya promised the safety that we so desperately sought.
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But life here proved to have its own traumas. Every night after sunset, the local Kenyan community would raid the refugee camp.
Once again, we were helpless and vulnerable. Our belongings were robbed, we were beaten and abused, and we were told we would be killed if we dared to open our mouths.
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It was terrifying. After 24 long years of struggling to survive in this way, my eldest brother was eventually resettled in the US in April Watching him leave was haunting as I had already lost so many of my family members. But, a month later, I was also offered safety in the US.
Upon arriving in my new home in May , I felt a sense of solace surround me. I received the warmest welcome and, immediately, it felt as though I was a member of the US. Whilst I was still in the refugee camp in Kenya, I decided that I was going to complete a Computer Science degree after all this was over. Education has always been important for me, and I thank my mother for this.
She would tell us this every day as we ate breakfast before school. After we became refugees, my mother encouraged me to continue into higher education so I can help our community and humanity as a whole. There is a lot of hate in the world but I know that knowledge can be the light that overcomes all evil.
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Despite this, the book fairs are inspiring young entrepreneurs like Mohamed Dubo, who opened the first major bookstore in Mogadishu three months ago. Dubo says he was inspired by the fair to put into action his decade-old dream of opening a bookshop in the Somali capital.
Through their eyes… Ahmed Burale, a Somalian refugee’s story
More than two-thirds of the books are non-academic, consisting of motivational and self-help books, novels, memoirs, and autobiographies. The need is there. Somaliland will also celebrate 25 years since it announced independence from Somalia. In south-central Somalia, the electioneering season for presidential and parliamentary elections is also underway.
Skip to navigation Skip to content. The willingness to read books is there.