Hate Crimes and Mother Tongues

This post was written by Guest contributor Seema Shafei (@seemashafei).I’ll never forget the time a classmate turned to me and said that we couldn’t elect Obama because his middle name was Hussein. You never know, she told me. He could be just like Saddam. If a name could elicit this much fear, a language could start a war.Language is a weapon as much as it is a comfort. It can connect ideas of home to a community, keeping culture alive. Speaking a language marked as ‘other’ can unite peo … [Read more...]

Review of Loving You Wasn’t Enough

 Warning for Spoilers! Loving You Wasn't Enough is a book about an unexpected love between two Muslim girls. I stumbled upon it randomly on Amazon and was immediately excited by the premise. It a book that claims to explore homosexuality from a Muslim perspective, and it tells a story that is not talked about often. With the exception of Diriye Osman, the Somali-British short story writer and essayist whose stories are usually centered around LGBT Somali characters, I was yet to … [Read more...]

Stability and Sustainability: Interview with Dr Hawa Abdi

It is a calm and cool afternoon in Nairobi, Kenya, when I catch up with Dr Hawa Abdi over Skype. After working hard in Mogadishu’s difficult circumstances with her two physician daughters Deqo and Amina Mohamed, she sometimes comes to Nairobi to rest and relax. Speaking over a passable internet connection, our conversation is peppered with silences, as our words travel between Kenya and Singapore. 68 year-old Dr Abdi, affectionately known by Somalis as Mama Hawa, is more than Somalia’s first gyn … [Read more...]

Breaking Down Stereotypes: Somali Women Always Agents of History

Recently, the Huffington Post re-published an Associated Press article on Sufi resurgence in Somalia. Following the withdrawal of the armed militant group Al-Shabab from the country’s capital of Mogadishu, Somalis are once again allowed to engage in Sufi practices without fear of death and violent repression. The article paints a landscape of men and women chanting in divine states of worship. The writer makes mention of women:  “Beyond the circle of worshippers are dozens of women, some of them … [Read more...]

The Women at the Forefront of Somalia’s Future

For more than 20 years there has been a continuous stream of bad news where Somalia is concerned with images of war, famine and piracy. Now with Al Shabaaab driven out of Mogadishu, and the Somali Transitional Government and African Union in control of the capital, Somalia seems to have joined the Africa Rising tide, and interestingly the image of Somalia's new era of a peaceful future seems to be largely women.Indeed, a dominant narrative in rebuilding Somalia seems to focus on women, … [Read more...]

“Islamically dressed” sex workers in a Christian nation

I was personally not aware that Malawi had a somewhat significant Muslim population when I read this report by Nyasa Times discussing the trend of sex workers wearing the hijab in certain cities in Malawi. This is because I was aware that Malawi identifies itself as a Christian nation "with no religious conflict”, with the religion being followed by 83% of the Malawian population. Yet as I discovered, a minority of Malawians, 13%, are Muslim.According to the report, sex workers are wearing h … [Read more...]

TEDxMogadishu: A Talk by Ilwad Elman

Last week, Samya covered the TEDxMogadishu talks for MMW.  As Samya wrote, "TEDx Mogadishu is not just a meeting of creative minds to gather and share their views on the welfare of the people in Somalia; it is also an opportunity for outsiders to change their perceptions about developments in that country, especially as they relate to women and children." A first TEDxMogadishu talk has been edited and posted online.  The talk, by Ilwad Elman, is entitled "In Memory of My Father, I Returned … [Read more...]


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