I got to spend last week in Somaliland and Somalia and I fell in love! With the people and the food. Hargeisa and Mogadishu were the towns I spent time in and I must say I was in for a rude surprise. I was shocked that I got to enjoy myself and would not actually mind working from there! Mrs. Adrian shouldn’t read this. I think she was fasting and praying the entire time that I was there.
Only sad part about my trip was that I didn’t carry a camera and didn’t take any nice pictures. I was too scared – what if we were captured by Al Shabaab and they decided I was a journalist because I was carrying a camera? Off with Njenva’s head! And I really wanted to come back home…..
1. The Accents – There are very many different accents in Soomaaliya (the correct spelling of the country!) The returnees from UK and America have complicated this accents business even more. I got serious giggles everytime I encountered a new form of their accent. The native Somalis have the cutest accent: besbot = passport; blenin = planning; brogremis = programs; etc. Everything in plural form where an “s” is at the end also got an extra “i” – bibolis = people’s; balbis = bulbs.
2. The Food – Nyum! Nyum! NYUM! The culture is that the first two meals of the day are the heaviest with tea or salad being consumed for dinner. Since I was hanging out with Kenyans, I got to eat a full meal three times a day. And oh my goodness, the food is really amazing. I don’t know whether it is the ingredients or the technique but I really enjoyed the food. Most meals have bread or injera and meat. Meat cooked so well that it just melts in your mouth. But the tea! OMG. On my first day, I got a full cup of tea and by the time I was done, my tongue had gone numb. The tea has the sugar premixed and they put in so much sugar it feels like you are drinking syrup. I got to the habit of only filling a quarter of my cup with tea and topping it off with hot water.
3. The Communication – They are a very expressive society. Everything is loud. When I landed at the Mogadishu airport, I was in total shock. It was so loud in there. Everyone was talking and everyone was arguing with someone and it was just chaotic! But funny enough, the people I worked with could keep up with a number of LOUD conversations going on at the same time. We were in the car when a cop with a gun came knocking our drivers window with the front end of his gun (is that the muzzle?! of the gun?!) and they started arguing – the driver and the cop – then the cop opened the driver’s window and started poking him with the same gun. I thought the end had come. So I asked my colleague what they were arguing about and he told me, “Relax. It is his friend and they haven’t seen each other in a while”
4. The Clothing – I thought it was so unfair that in that extreme desert heat, women have to cover themselves completely. Some even wear socks and mittens so that even if the winds shift their clothing a bit they will still be covered. And the men? They wear light trousers, light shirts and sandals. But truth be told, I really enjoyed dressing up and I plan to wear my buibui one day here in Nairobi. If I have ever wished to be a man, it would be the day I had to travel for a long period of time on a hot day and the only beverage available was hot tea. Sorry, hot diabetes inducing tea.
5. Work – I have the best colleagues EVER!! They were all so nice to me. And I was so humbled that they went out of their way to make me so comfortable – God bless y’all. Funniest part was when they thought I was American then they thought I was Ghanaian……. Too funny.
6. Ethics – I had never seen people so carefree with their belongings and their money before. People do not steal from each other. One can actually leave a whole bundle of dollars at a street corner and no one will touch it. I guess sharia law and it’s cutting off of hands has passed it’s message across. I understand that there is hardly any theft – how cool would that be if that was the case for my own country Kenya!
Reactions from some of my relatives who got to find out that I was in Somalia:
1. Cousin Penz – Kwani ume join KDF?
2. Mrs. Belieber – God is with you. But, unaeza learn kutengeneza grenade?
3. Shady – Ulijoin Al Shabaab?
4. Ndipantmento Menenja – Umeenda mbali sana kutafuta pesa! I hope uko na bonoko yako!
And now Somalia is on my list of prayer items – God needs to restore order there. The beaches are AMAZING! They should be used by tourists, and I want to be one of them! 🙂