By Onyeka Nwelue
Somalia is in trouble. Somalis are dying of hunger. Children are dying, nowhere to be buried. This is just like the genocide in Cambodia.
For those who don’t know, Somalia is in Africa – it is the country of K’Naan, that fine goateed musician we all love. He sang ‘Wavin’ Flag’.
Nuruddin Farah is also from Somalia.
Today, K’Naan returns to Somalia after twenty years and this is what he said: “the worst famine in decades pillages the flesh of the already wounded in Somalia. And the world’s collective humanitarian response has been a defeated shrug. If ever there was a best and worst time to return home, it was now.”
He is not joking, the situation is worrisome and catastrophic. As a celebrity, he hopes to bring light to the darkness existing already. He has come with ‘concerned colleagues.’ To not make things worse, I don’t trust the people K’Naan has come with; they have come with cameras to capture what he has also written about.
“I meet a young woman watching over her dying mother, who has been struck by the bullet of famine. The daughter tells me about the journey to Mogadishu — a 200-mile trek across arid, parched land, with adults huddling around children to protect them first. This mother refused to eat her own food in order to feed abandoned children they had picked up along the way. And now she was dying because of that,” the rapper said.
He continues, “the final and most devastating stop for me was Banadir Hospital, where I was born. The doctors are like hostages of hopelessness, surrounded and outnumbered. Mothers hum lullabies holding the skeletal heads of their children. It seems eyes are the only ornament left of their beautiful faces; eyes like lanterns holding out a glimmer of faint hope. Volunteers are doing jobs they aren’t qualified for. The wards are over-crowded, mixing gun wound, malnutrition and cholera patients.”
I’m not thrilled by those who have come with K’Naan, although he is not to blame. The problem is the African approach to many things. We are not letting ourselves help ourselves. While the grass is burning in Somalia, the Nigerian Government is busy donating cars to the Liberian Government and the Liberian Government is busy, collecting the cars and smiling into the cameras, to tell the world that they are receiving ‘relief materials’ from the Nigerian Government for their elections. I haven’t seen a failed government that so much thinks highly of itself. I haven’t seen a leadership so snaily (if such word exists) like Nigeria’s, that issues affecting Somalia seem to be of no connection to them.
Africa – a continent of over 53 countries – continues to pride itself as a continent at peace. Nevertheless, the African is one who finds happiness in communalism, but never gets to practice the love of communalism. So, without rambling so much, it is more painful when you realize that those who ‘save’ Africa are foreigners. We are too lazy to bother about the reasons behind their ‘saving’ Africa. Undoubtedly, we are very weak. We are a people who depend on the others for everything.
There is food in Africa. Somalis are Africans and are dying of hunger. Before we can wake up to see if we can airlift food to the hungry Somalis dying every single day, we had to wait for K’Naan to make a decision all the way from Canada to return home, yet, no one is still making a move. It is annoying that the Nigerian Television Authority has no interest in the case of Somalia. It is appalling to know that Africans don’t care about Somalis now. Everyone is not interested. Where are the anthropology professors who are supposed to jump onto the next flight going to East Africa to see if they can proffer any kind of solution to the hunger striking every household in Somalia?
Right now, Allah is not obliged to do anything. Jesus Christ won’t be crucified again. The joys we share when we call ourselves Africans have to be fully expressed now. The love of Africa has to manifest now; it should be the job of African nations to prevail over this and not those ‘concerned citizens’ with their cameras.
I’m amazed as to how hunger is killing a lot of people on the streets – having walked through a lane where a dead boy lay and someone actually said he died of starvation. Close to that lane, there are fruit stalls. This is in Obalende.
For once, K’Naan has returned home as a star to shine among hungry Somalis, but I shall shower a huge respect to the Nigerian Government if they can ever intervene; let’s send food to Somalia and save a life.
Onyeka Nwelue is author of The Abyssinian Boy.