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Rebuilding her nation

A Somali woman arrives at the Dadaab camp in northeastern Kenya walks with her child to the world's largest refugee settlement. Photo: Paul Jeffrey, ACT Aliance

by Liban Obsiye
Friday, March 07, 2014

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In the dark London morning

She rises before the irate sound of the alarm

In between the howling wind and angry rain

She delivers her children to the warmth of their classrooms

In the pitch black evening she waits for them to finish malcamad

The wind still howls wildly as if baffled with a mother’s defiance

It asks, “What are you doing?”

To which she responds silently

“Rebuilding my nation.”

The dust of the refugee camp in the unforgiving dessert blinds her sight

Yet she is alert to her family’s needs

Awake early to line up for their daily meal,

She screams, shouts, shoves and pushes her way to the front of the snake like queue

Dignity has no place in times of difficulty

Bringing back the meal, she always eats last

Her belly churns and grumbles angrily as if to ask,

“What are you doing?”

To which she calmly replies,

“Rebuilding my nation.”


Before the sun she arranges her stool on the side of the dusty road

Tomatoes, Cabbages, milk, corn, maize and a steaming tea pot

All the fuel a city needs to run

The dust from the passing cars covers her clothes

Her voice hoarse from battling shoppers over prices

Her mind divided between home and the her profit

The deviant tomatoes roll on to the road

She sprints to collect them

Why think the tomatoes

To which she replies,

“I am rebuilding my nation.”

“Vote for me” screams her banner

Go back to your husband is the reply

“Vote for me” she repeats

Go back to your kitchen is laughed out loud

“Vote for me,” blasts the radio

Turn it off say the elders

“Vote for me,” pleads the female candidate

Why asks the audience,

“I want to rebuild my nation.”


International Women’s day is more than just another UN, soft Left-Liberal ideologically inspired day. It is a day to recognize the successes of women globally and to confront the challenges that hold them back in all spheres of public and private life. Somali women have much to be proud of. They are rebuilding their nation socially, economically and politically. They are visible. They are on the agenda. This poem clearly shows this. However, it also illustrates that not all of them enjoy this privilege and as such this poem is to inspire action towards supporting all women in Somalia to achieve, engage and to matter at every level and every stage. Somali women, in many ways, are rebuilding their families after the tragedy of war and displacement, the national and local economies as well as edging their way more and more into the political limelight to increase their influence and reach. This can only lead to the obvious conclusion that they are rebuilding their nation in their different ways. Somali women are not just victims of Western defined oppression, but leaders in their own right. It is unfortunate that there is only one day the World has designated to celebrate women and their global achievement. However, Somali women, like their sisters across the world, deserve praise every day.

The author welcomes comment and feedback. Please do this via the below means:

[email protected]
@LibanObsiye (Twitter).

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