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Gorme xoloo noqoney? -- When did we become livestock?

In early April, hundreds of Somali speaking Kenyans were arrested in a supposed anti-terrorist sweep in Eastleigh, Nairobi after an alleged Al Shabaab attack left six dead. The people arrested were taken to a local football stadium and kept in cages, unless they could afford to bribe the police. For The New Inquiry Aaron Bady uses Kenyan and other news sources to explain the background to these razzias, why Somalis are often the victim of police extortion and how this impacts Kenya as a whole. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 21, 2014 - 11 comments

Stone Towns of the Swahili Coast

The Swahili Coast and its culture in the medieval period (roughly the tenth to fifteenth centuries) is relatively little studied, compared with other cultures of its size and influence, though it represents a key node in the development of global trade before the European Age of Discovery. Its history is known in broad strokes, but less is known about how the medieval Swahili lived and how they incorporated influences—from religion to architecture—from across the Indian Ocean world. Fleisher and his codirector, Stephanie Wynne-Jones of the University of York, looked for a site that would allow them to examine such questions in detail. “We had an inkling Songo Mnara would be that site,” he says, “but it has completely exceeded our expectations. --
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 5, 2014 - 9 comments

The Somalis have cheekily declared themselves African champions for 2013

Bandy is a game similar to ice hockey, but played with a ball instead of a puck. Somalia is set to enter its first ever team into the World Bandy Championships, comprised entirely of Somali refugees living in Borlaenge, Sweden where almost 10% of the population hails from war-torn Somalia. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Jan 8, 2014 - 11 comments

Here's yer new engine.

Piratjagt! Discover what patrolling pirate infested waters off the coast of the Horn of Africa is like with the Danish Navy. (6lyt)
posted by allkindsoftime on Dec 10, 2013 - 14 comments

"What does the drone’s camera capture, and what does it occlude?"

The Sound of Terror: Phenomenology of a Drone Strike
Opponents of drone strikes say they violate international law and have caused unacknowledged civilian deaths. Proponents insist they actually save the lives of both U.S. soldiers, who would otherwise be deployed in dangerous ground operations, and of civilians, because of the drone’s capacity to survey and strike more precisely than combat. If the alternative is a prolonged and messy ground operation, the advantage of drone strikes in terms of casualties is indisputable, and it is not my intention to dispute it here. But the terms of this debate give a one-sided view of both the larger financial and political costs of drones, as well as the less than lethal but nonetheless chronic and intense harm continuous strikes wage on communities.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 19, 2013 - 79 comments

Leave No Man Behind

Twenty years ago today the Battle of Mogadishu raged in the streets of the Somali capital as members of Task Force Ranger attempted to arrest two lieutenants of the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. When one of the helicopters crashed, what was planned as a short mission became a street-by-street fight to reach the pilot and crew, and then evacuate them from the city. The battle – which some estimates place at 160 American, Malaysian, and Pakistani troops against 6000 Somali militiamen and civilians – became known to the public as Black Hawk Down thanks to the work of Mark Bowden, a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer who wrote a 29-part series on the battle in November and December 1997, leading to the critically acclaimed 1999 book Black Hawk Down, and the 2001 movie of the same name. [more inside]
posted by NotMyselfRightNow on Oct 3, 2013 - 49 comments

she risked everything to be kind

12 Minutes of Freedom in 460 Days of Captivity
"When I describe what happened to me on Aug. 23, 2008, I say that I was taken. On an empty stretch of road outside of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, out of the back seat of a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi by a dozen or so men whose faces were swaddled in checkered scarves. Each one of them carried an AK-47."

Behind the Cover Story: Sara Corbett on Collaborating With Amanda Lindhout to Tell a Harrowing Tale
posted by andoatnp on Sep 2, 2013 - 12 comments

"I tell them not to do something foolish like me"

Maalin told The Boston Globe in 2006 that he had several opportunities to receive the smallpox vaccine, but initially avoided it because he was afraid the shot would hurt. "Now when I meet parents who refuse to give their children the polio vaccine," he told the Globe, "I tell them my story. I tell them how important these [polio] vaccines are. I tell them not to do something foolish like me." -- Ali Maow Maalin was the last person in the world ever to get smallpox and dedicated his life to help eradicate another disease, polio, in his home country of Somalia. Sadly he passed away two weeks ago.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 1, 2013 - 25 comments

"may be the only seafood shack in the world with its own guard tower."

Cooking For Freedom
A few days before I met Ahmed Jama in Mogadishu, three Islamist gunmen from Al Shabaab — al-Qa’eda’s Somali branch — burst into his new restaurant wearing suicide bomb jackets. They sprayed the place with bullets and then detonated themselves.
NPR: At His Own Risk, Somali Chef Creates Gourmet Haven In War-Weary Mogadishu [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 17, 2013 - 11 comments

The Permanent War

The Permanent War (video). "This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing." Part 1: Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists. Part 2: A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy. Part 3: Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Oct 25, 2012 - 68 comments

Its downhill all the way

The need for speed This article contrasts two very different timeframes in the 'social life' of the plant stimulant miraa--known elsewhere as khat--in Kenya and beyond. One, the heritage and cultural associations around the age of the trees themselves and the other, the impact of the perishability of the product even as demand for it grows on continents halfway around the world, thus the "need for speed". (Previously) (Previously)
posted by infini on Jun 9, 2012 - 6 comments

A small player in a bad neighbourhood.

Take a holiday in Somaliland: journey to the state that isn’t. "Positioned on the upper haunch of the Somali dog-leg the Republic of Somaliland looks initially unpromising. It is mainly dry and rocky, there are few paved roads, and the population is small and generally dispersed. ... Whilst the economy may be on the up, Somaliland still feels extremely isolated. An employee of a big international NGO who I met in the lobby of my hotel, The Mansoor, looked at me with astonishment when I said I’d come to Hargeisa for fun. 'The biggest danger here,' he said 'is dying of boredom.'"
posted by mykescipark on May 28, 2012 - 10 comments

Fishing Without Nets

"There are two ways to fish, with nets or without. But if I fish with violence, will my nets be full of blood?" Fishing Without Nets is a short film about Somali pirates from their point of view, which won the recent Sundance Jury Prize in short filmmaking. The film will tour film festivals, and may be worked into a feature-length film. Writer/ producer/ editor Cutter Hodierne told his story of filming in Kenya to Vice. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 23, 2012 - 7 comments

Another American Abducted in Somalia

American writer abducted in Somalia. A writer and travel journalist from Manhattan Beach, Calif. has been kidnapped by Somali pirates. [more inside]
posted by pallen123 on Jan 28, 2012 - 73 comments

The War on Twitter

Did you know that Al-Shabaab, the Islamic militant group currently fighting for control of southern Somalia, has a Twitter account? [more inside]
posted by Aizkolari on Dec 15, 2011 - 22 comments

Famine in East Africa

With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Alan Taylor's In Focus quickly brings home the scale of the suffering, with a link to the CNN article listing several ways to donate.
posted by bwg on Jul 27, 2011 - 33 comments

The Hole

The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia. Jeremy Scahill at The Nation reports on a CIA facility at Mogadishu's international airport used for a "counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives," as well as a secret prison "buried in the basement of Somalia's National Security Agency" where "some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu." [more inside]
posted by lullaby on Jul 14, 2011 - 39 comments

Pirate Latitudes

William Langewiesche writes an enthralling account of the hijacking of a French cruise ship in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates.
posted by reenum on Jan 14, 2011 - 17 comments

Somali funk, pre-pirate days

Iftin, a Somali form of funk, was popular from the early 1970s until the time of the civil war there in 1991. It's just one of many examples of little-known (outside of Africa) African popular music found preserved at Likembe. Found while falling down the world music blog rabbit hole here, after stumbling on a rock here. [more inside]
posted by Burhanistan on Jan 2, 2011 - 8 comments

American Privateer Princess

SelectArmor, owned by Michele Lynn Ballarin, is a private military company based in Virginia. Her firm is at the center of covert military action in the waters around Somalia. [more inside]
posted by T.D. Strange on Dec 30, 2010 - 36 comments

Aargh! and Release: Fishers of Men and Money in Somalia

Are today’s ‘Barbary Pirates’ (i.e., Somalis engaging in high seas piracy) able accurately to be so-labeled? Not according to The New York Times East Africa bureau chief, Jeffrey Gettleman, and for several good reasons, presented in the current NYRB. [more inside]
posted by JL Sadstone on Oct 8, 2010 - 6 comments

Armed Mercenaries to Protect Corporate Interests At Sea

Insurance companies are considering forming a "private navy" of quick-response boats, crewed by armed mercenaries, to protect Western shipping from attacks by so-called Somali pirates.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Sep 28, 2010 - 49 comments

Eleven Million Dollars

How much does it cost to run a country? Somalia's Prime Minister released the government budget for 2009 (PDF) today. They had $11 million dollars to spend. That's million. With an M.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName on Aug 26, 2010 - 41 comments

Because at least 64 people died?

As Uganda reels following a bombing that killed at least 64 people in Kampala watching the World Cup final, CNN tells us "why the world should care." [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Jul 12, 2010 - 36 comments

Escape from Somalia

Thousands of people flee Somalia every year in rusty fishing boats. Here's a photo essay of one of those journeys. By the always-excellent Ed Ou.
posted by awenner on May 10, 2010 - 17 comments

First Person Shooter

Dutch Marines capture Somali pirates with all the action caught by the team leader's helmet videocamera.
posted by darkstar on Apr 30, 2010 - 39 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

Extremists and Women

"Somalia is in the grip of famine and chaos but officials there are inspecting bras". "..[T]he extremist ideology assumes that humans are a group of wild beasts that are completely incapable of controlling their instincts". In an editorial in The Independent, Alaa Al-Aswany discusses fundamentalist gender bias.
posted by gallois on Oct 29, 2009 - 51 comments

Somalia's refugee camps

Inside Somalia. Mike Thomson of the BBC makes a rare visit to the refugee camps in one of the most dangerous places on earth.
posted by allkindsoftime on Sep 18, 2009 - 11 comments

Cutthroat Capitalism

WIRED contributing editor Scott Carney interviewed an ocean-going hijacker for his story on the economics of Somali piracy. [more inside]
posted by gman on Jul 28, 2009 - 21 comments

Remember: New Glasses Before New Passport

Detained in Kenya for not looking enough like her passport photo, Canadian Citizen Suaad Haji Mohamud has been trapped in Kenya for 2 months while trying to return home to her adopted country. [more inside]
posted by jacquilynne on Jul 24, 2009 - 29 comments

"There's an audience for the story...largely the result of Senator John Ensign's libido..."

Jesus Plus Nothing, Minus Somalia: How the Christian fundamentalism of The Family (also known as the C Street Fellowship) turned Somalia into the next staging ground for Islamic radicalism.
posted by jonp72 on Jul 22, 2009 - 41 comments

A City Under Siege

Mogadishu: A City Under Siege. Photos from inside the city taken in November 2008.
posted by lullaby on May 12, 2009 - 14 comments

REGULATION VACATION CELEBRATION!

Sick of all that socialism? Come to Somalia! Who needs health care, the rule of law or a central government? It seems to be a pretty minimal state, some Libertarians are eying it with interest and others think it's doing very well for itself. (via Fipi Lele)
posted by bshort on May 7, 2009 - 98 comments

I will make you fishers of men

"What began as a defensive movement by local fishermen has evolved into a complex amalgamation of banditry, organized crime, freebooting, and insurgency targeting all types of vessels from fishing trawlers to oil tankers." Somali pirates holding an American captain hostage were killed during a rescue yesterday. The lack of effective governance in Somalia allows massive vessels from Europe and Asia to decimate the local fish population, which may have forced Somali fisherman into piracy. Other ships use the Somali coast as a toxic waste dump. [previously]
posted by benzenedream on Apr 13, 2009 - 188 comments

The Axis of Upheaval

The Axis of Upheaval: A special report on the coming age of instability.
posted by homunculus on Feb 21, 2009 - 61 comments

Puntland

Visit beautiful Puntland! "You can find more or less everything in Puntland: mountains, wide beaches, clean lakes, deep forests, world-class historic monuments, and friendly people." Enjoy a traditional Somali breakfast over the daily paper. If you plan on an extended visit, consider taking a course at good ol' PSU.
posted by JVA on Nov 26, 2008 - 10 comments

We're Only In It For the Money

Somali pirates have captured a Saudi oil tanker, demanding a $25 million ransom. Somali pirates are well known and active - as of 30 September, 12 vessels remained captive and under negotiation with more than 250 crew being held hostage. But this time they may have gone too far: by capturing a ship of a Muslim nation, the pirates have drawn the ire of Somali Islamist fighters, who have vowed to combat the pirates. The pirates say they're just doing it for the cash, while some report they're living large. Who are Somalia's pirates anyway?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Nov 21, 2008 - 63 comments

Yo-ho-ho

Piracy may be on the rise, but it's never really gone away. [more inside]
posted by gman on Nov 17, 2008 - 52 comments

'Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals'

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates. Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill "within days" of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.
posted by VicNebulous on Sep 29, 2008 - 96 comments

oh hai!

lol-qats, a Pakistani-English blogger (author of the amusing Islamicist) pokes gentle fun at the coca-leaf like addiction to Qat (alternate spelling, Khat), which is common in Yemen and several East African countries. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 24, 2008 - 58 comments

Mogadishu Madness

Two Current correspondents are the first American journalists to venture into Mogadishu, Somalia after the infamous 1993 incident when two U.S. military Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by Somali militia. They film one of city street gun markets to show how easy it is to buy an AK-47, a machine gun or even RPG launcher. Their full-length video report Mogadishu Madness reveals the country under the self-proclaimed government of the Islamic Court Union, which was later overthrown with the help of the United Sates.
posted by Surfin' Bird on Jun 26, 2008 - 33 comments

oudtube

Qaraami music is from Somalia. In qaraami style you sing and play an embellished melody on the oud, and maybe with some drums. The Somali diaspora have taken it everywhere. I just heard it for the first time in Shafeq's taxi in Wellington. With luck, it will flourish in its home again.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen on Aug 31, 2007 - 8 comments

Why is the US bombing Somalia?

Why is the US bombing Somalia? Salim Lone is the former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq, and a journalist in Kenya. In an interview he discusses possible reasons for the attacks. The recent history of the country is bloody and the country is beset with poverty, and our own history of involvement there is quite ugly.
posted by serazin on Jan 9, 2007 - 75 comments

Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006

Top Ten Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2006 from Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders
posted by kimdog on Jan 9, 2007 - 17 comments

Ethiopia declares war against the Islamic Courts Union

Ethiopia Hits Somali Targets, Declaring War (The New York Times). the Ethiopian government has declared war on Somalia's ruling Islamic Courts Union. The Islamic Courts Union, which had gained control over much of Somalia, had been engaged in a civil war against the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government. Back in October of 2006 the BBC reported that the Islamic Courts Union had declared a 'holy war' against Ethiopia due to their support of the Transitional Federal Government. What many may not be aware of is that Ethiopia is a recipient of American economic and military aid. More links from The New York Times on the lead up of events: 12/22, 12/23, 12/24.
posted by j-urb on Dec 25, 2006 - 42 comments

Interview with President Clinton.

Interview with President Clinton.
posted by rxrfrx on Sep 24, 2006 - 182 comments

Somali....where?

Black Hawk Down Revisited : (newsfilter) giving cladstine support to the warlords, The American Operation is in breach of the United Nations’ arms embargo on Somalia and therefore in breach of international law. The islamists are claiming victory in Mogadishu. Meanwhile the Somali "leader" sacks Ministers. While the people .... well what do they matter anyway. There's always more from Somali News.
posted by adamvasco on Jun 5, 2006 - 14 comments

10 Stories

Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About.
posted by ND¢ on Jun 2, 2006 - 28 comments

Visit Somalia!

Visit Somalia! Okay, so it has no government that is recognized by another country. It has a provisional parliament, though - but they usually opt to convene in another country's capital, over 600 miles away, out of fear. But hey, look at the bright side: They've got a minister of tourism, and he'll do his best to make sure you won't be kidnapped. No guarantees, though - it can still happen.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Mar 1, 2006 - 19 comments

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