Sunday, January 10, 2010
The prolonged conflict in Somalia has caused an immense damage to the country’s human resources. Aside from the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost, millions have been internally displaced or have left the country as refugees. Among those most affected are the country’s educated elite, a group that have consistently been targeted by the warring factions.
Because of the continued intimidation and violence against them, the country’s best and brightest minds have left the country in droves to seek safety abroad. But there are few who chose to remain behind despite the escalating danger. These heroic individuals chose to risk their lives for the sake of their people and the future of their country. So, in recognition of all the educated Somalis who remained in the country or have returned after leaving, Hiiraan Online has selected Dr. Mohamed Aden Warsame, popularly known as Dr. Shahiid, as its 2009 Person of the Year.
A medical doctor and scholar with unparalleled humility, Dr. Shahiid epitomized the selfless dedication of those who chose to risk their lives in the service of their people. Dr. Shahiid was a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the now defunct Somali National University in Mogadishu when the civil war started 20 years ago. He was one of the few doctors who chose to stay behind to help those in need while most of his colleagues chose to flee the encroaching war. He remained an indispensible member of the medical community in Mogadishu, a city ravaged by a chronic insecurity.
In addition to volunteering his energy and time at his private clinic, Dr. Shahiid was a tireless philanthropist who was instrumental in establishing Banadir University. He believed that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they put their minds to it. He also believed in the importance of transferring medical knowledge to a new generation.
In 2001, he organized a meeting for doctors in Mogadishu where he announced his plans. At that meeting, he was quoted as saying: “For too long, I’ve waited for the return of a central government that can fulfill its national obligations. But since time is not on my side, I have decided to stop waiting and find a way to transfer my knowledge to the next generation of doctors.” A year later, despite the prevailing conditions in Mogadishu, he established the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Banadir University. He became one of the founding Professors at the new faculty where he taught several subjects, including pathology, forensic medicine, histology, embryology, ENT, and genetics.
It was on the happy occasion of witnessing the graduation of the second class of doctors at Banadir University that he died a “shahiid” (a martyr). Seldom does a person’s name foretell his or her fate. Dr. Mohamed Aden Warsame, popularly known as “Dr. Shahiid,” was among the few whose names predicted their fate: On December 3rd, 2009, a suicide bomber targeted him and others at an event meant to celebrate the new brass of doctors he helped to nurture.
Hiiraan Online recognizes Dr. Shahiid, may Allah bestow his soul in the eternal mercy, as the Person of Year 2009 for his remarkable contribution to the welfare of the ill and others in need; for successfully training dozens of young doctors who are currently serving their people across the nation; for withstanding the savagery of the senseless conflict, and, more importantly, for eventually paying the ultimate price: his life.
No award can exact Dr. Shahiid’s deposit to the human capital of Somalia. Nevertheless, we dedicate this small token to his remarkable life, and to the dozens of innocent students, young doctors, professors, parents and government ministers who also lost their lives the December 3rd bombing at Hotel Shamow.
While some devoted their energy to wreck havoc, Dr. Shahiid and others like him relentlessly pursued to heal both the body and the soul of the Somali people. We keep this martyr in our prayers, and we ask our readers to join us in that mission.