Monday, April 13, 2015
MOGADISHU (HOL) --- Hawa Nur Hirabe, a Somali woman whose basket weaving photo appeared on the Somali shilling, has died in the Somali capital on Monday, a significant loss for the Somali shilling which is struggling to exist against the mighty US dollar.
Mrs. Hirabe's death comes after mysterious illness that left her bed-ridden for years. Her basket weaving photo on the Somali thousands shilling has been the face of the Somali shilling which has seen a significant decline, thanks to the US dollar which has strengthened against the Somali shilling for the past two decades.
Somalia has been without functioning government since 1991.
Her death is another blow to the Somali currency. Fatima Hersi, another woman whose photo appeared on the same 1000 shilling with Hirabe, died last year after a prolonged illness.
Mrs Hirabe left behind four children. She's been a cultural icon for Somalis who are known for their huge reverence towards their country's legends.
Her family expressed disappointment at lack of respect towards the deceased woman by Somali officials, saying they didn't even bother to attend her burial. She's considered to be a symbol for the Somali culture.
Having survived against great odds, the shilling now faces a serious challenge in the form of dollars transferred by mobile phone. The Economist newspaper reported that mobile-money services allows users to pay for goods by texting small amounts of money to a merchant's account, and is proving popular in Mogadishu. But the shilling's endurance suggests it should not be counted out. If it can survive without a government, it can probably brush off modern technology, too.