Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gardener of Villa Somalia

While reporting my recent Letter from Mogadishu, I stayed at the presidential compound, Villa Somalia. Sheikh Ahmed Mursal, the chief gardener, gave me a tour of the grounds.
Sheikh Ahmed started working at Villa Somalia in the late fifties, when the Italians were still in charge. He had only recently come to Mogadishu from the south. He marvelled at the sight of Somalis wearing Western clothes and drinking tea with Europeans at the legendary Croce del Sud café, in the city center next to the great cathedral, which was blown up in 1992. “In my village, only the Europeans dressed like that. In my village, we couldn’t even speak to Europeans.”
Sheikh Ahmed is now a limber, straight-backed man of seventy-five, with a fulsome hennaed beard. On the day we spoke, he wore a white skullcap, a long red shirt, and loose pantaloons.
After a light morning rain, the sky was overcast. A humid breeze blew. Sheikh Ahmed rattled off the names of trees and shrubs in half-remembered Italian. A yellow, bell-shaped flower on a tree was a “campanelli yalo”; another tree, its branches thorned and festooned with beanlike pods, was an “anganelli.” There were also some frangipani trees, and a false tamarind that he called simply “arbol indio,” or Indian tree. He had also planted edible greens, tomatoes, and bananas under the shade trees, and some yellow crotons—“croto amarelo.” In the old days, there had been animals, too: monkeys and antelope, a caged lion and tiger, and a giraffe that wandered freely around the grounds.
He walked me around a plaza laid in white, blue, and ochre terrazzo tiles around a decorative flowerbed and a white flagpole. From it hung Somalia’s flag, a simple five-pointed white star on a blue field. Sheikh Ahmed Mursal explained that this was where Somalia’s Independence Day had been celebrated in 1960, and every other great occasion of state since, including presidential inaugurations and visits by foreign heads of state. He pointed to a large shade tree under which foreign dignitaries would sit, and another spot where musicians played.
We were standing next to the guest house, a white, sixties-era mansion made of concrete and glass. I had been given the V.I.P. suite, a beat-up but spacious apartment with its own balcony. I knew that I was receiving special treatment; senior government ministers and presidential advisers were sleeping two and three to a room.
Sheikh Ahmed recalled that the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada had stayed in my suite. “We welcomed him well,” he said. “We loved him because he was an African president.” Sheikh Ahmed liked working for Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia’s dictator from 1969 until 1991. “I watched him escape out there,” Sheikh Ahmed said, pointing to the front gate. He then indicated a stand of trees at the opposite end of the compound: “Thirty minutes [later], his enemies entered from over there.” Of all of Somalia’s presidents, Siad Barre had taken the most interest in the garden, sometimes bringing back seeds from abroad for Sheikh Ahmed.
Two thin, robed women approached us. They had been cleaners at Villa Somalia but had been thrown out during the last presidential changeover and were now unemployed. They blamed Sheikh Ahmed for their predicament. One complained to me, “He has brought his own people here and is taking care only of them. We are out, and we are not getting anything.” They asked for their old jobs back. Sheikh Ahmed looked down at his feet. Occasionally, he glanced up, staring stonily back, as if from a great distance. Eventually, their arguments exhausted, they retreated.
Sheikh Ahmed said that the women were from a sub-clan favored by the warlord General Mohamed Farah Aidid, who had seized power at the height of the civil war. After Aidid lost control of Villa Somalia, the women had been displaced. “They always come to Villa Somalia,” my interpreter, a presidential aide called Hussein, explained. “They have come back and been kicked out again by every president for the past several years.” Hussein shrugged. In Somalia’s society of clans and sub-clans, people look after their own.
Sheikh Ahmed has a sizeable brood of his own—on his own word, no fewer than thirty-five children, “praise be to God,” and his current wife, his twelfth, is now pregnant. “The whole clan is one hundred and ninety-five, including grandchildren,” Sheikh Ahmed said proudly. “And not one of my children has ever carried a gun. Everything I have has come from gardening, from trees and flowers.” He had seen to it that his children were educated; one son had been sent to Finland, another to the United Kingdom—both popular destinations for the Somali diaspora, along with Nairobi, Oslo, and Minneapolis.
Eyeing my notepad, Sheikh Ahmed instructed: “I want you to hear what I have to say, and I want you to write this down. I am an old man and I have worked a long time, and I am sad my country is in this state. I wish I had a country that could reward its best citizens. If my country were not at war, I would have retired by now; I would have received my reward, because I have worked hard. I never harmed anyone. I raised my children properly, and they have never harmed anybody, either. So I wait for this weak state to give me my reward, so I can go home.” Read more:

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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