So I was surfing the internet, actually going about my blog business and then I discovered this piece or better still article that left me with goose pimples all over. This article I'm about to share was posted by Lara Wise on facebook, I actually wanted to share without seeking her permission, but I was too overwhelmed with the article not to ask and then I did, guess what, she answered too quickly for a busy celebrity like her. I celebrate you today and forever Lara Wise...
I WENT TO SOMALIA ...
Okay, last night I began a reflection on my short vacation to Somalia. Somalia? Yes, Mogadishu, Kismayo, Juba, Wajir...
Short holiday, five days, but it left me with a 'forever message'.
I wasn't born during Nigeria's civil war but my dad said it was bad. History accounts proved my dad's definition of 'bad' wrong.
It was a moment in Nigeria's history that those who survived it will not want a rehash.
The closest I have come to witnessing the horrific tell-tale consequences of war was when I went to Sierra Leone to cover the opening trial of Charles Taylor. I was an investigative reporter with Silverbird TV and I was the only Nigerian journalist at that trial.
I took out time to drive through Freetown and I saw the signature of horror ! I went to the amputee camp, men, women, amputated, some on one hand, others on both. I met an amputee, both hands hacked off, the trauma left him with a terrible stroke on both legs. He begged me to help him die!
So, back to Somalia.
I'm just going to point out what I saw I'm this country trying to rise firm the ashes of a war that has lasted over 24 years!
# Somalia just got its first ATM in over 23 years!
# Schools are opening for the first time in over 23 years.
# Hospitals are opening for the first time in over 23 years.
# Banks are opening for the first time in over 23 years.
# Construction work is just beginning in over 23 years.
# Somalia is planning an election for the first time within that period.
# Children born 24 years ago have never known a peaceful society. They were born into war. Live inside war and so know no peace.
There is not a single church in Somalia. I noticed that as a Christian. Yes, Somalia is a Muslim country but I met Christians working there. They can't go to church.
# There are a lot of physically challenged folks here.
# My vacation coincided with the timing of Somali journalists' national convention. Majority of them bore the marks of the hazards practicing during war : some were on crutches, maimed by bombs and grenades, some have hearing difficulties, deafened by bombs that were meant to silence them forever. Some near scars from fires and have had cosmetic skin graft surgeries to help them look okay.
One of the female journalists at the convention was killed shortly after my visit.
#. Movement for me was restricted and if I had to move out, I had to wear a full body armour... Just in case !
# On the streets, I saw arm - tottering youths brandish weapons on place of cell phones. They are youths protecting the communities. It was strange and scary for me.
# Somalia has Africa's longest beach, but if what use us a beautiful beach in the midst of war?
# I met Nigerian troops under the AMISOM (Africa's Mission to Somalia). Many of them recognised me and we struck a bond.
They asked me to take this message back after my vacation : TELL OUR PEOPLE BACK HOME THAT WAR IS NOT GOOD. WHEN WE READ OR HEAR ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING BACK HOME, WE ARE SAD BECAUSE WE ARE THE ONES HERE AND WE KNOW THAT WE DON'T WANT THIS I'M OUR COUNTRY.
Friends, I shortened my post because it was getting too long.
If you notice my observations above, you will see that the consequences of war know no gender, religion, age or profession.
This is to all of you beating the drum of war in NIGERIA and from outside Nigeria, I wish you would take a trip to Somali like I just did. Your perspective will change.
IT DOES NOBODY ANY GOOD !!!