Ethiopian-Somali Community Reacts to Oromo and Amhara Protests

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Flags of all Nine Ethiopian Regions

As Oromo and Amhara Protests continue in and outside of Ethiopia, Somali, Afar, and other Ethiopian communities demonstrate support for national inclusivity and federalism.

Ethiopian-Somalis, both inside Ethiopia and abroad, have expressed vast concerns over the ongoing Amhara and Oromo Protests.

In Europe, Ethiopia and North America this past week[end] — there have been over five protests led by Ethiopian-Somali Diaspora communities denouncing Oromo Liberation Front (OLF/ONEG), Ginbot7 and all groups opposing Ethiopian solidarity. Also, Ethiopian-Somali Diaspora members and nationals assembled committees and publicly met on getting their voices heard, given that, in their opinion, ‘all narratives have [so far] been centralized on groups that do not express the legitimate concerns of Amhara and Oromo communities in Ethiopia.’

Ethiopia’s current system of federalism has paved substantial way, especially in the last decade, for the Somali Region to transition from poverty, political instability and marginalization to sustainable socio-economic development, environmental justice and influential presence in regional and national political spaces.

 

In Photos:  Ethiopian-Somali Diaspora Community Members From Around the World Demonstrate against ONAG/ONEG/OLF and Ginbot7 groups and Display Support for Ethiopian Unity 

 

 

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27th September, 2016. Jijiga, Somali Region, Ethiopia.

 

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24th September, 2016. Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

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24th September, 2016. London, UK.

 

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22nd September, 2016. Minnesota, USA.

 

Watch: Ethio-Somali’s in the UK defending Federalism-London 2016

 

Somali Region Overview:

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Location of Ethiopian Somali Regional State (ESRS)

  • Somali Region is the second largest region in Ethiopia, a land area of around 280,000km.
  • Somalis are the third largest ethnic group, making about 6.2% of the general population.
  • Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic Party (ESPDP) is the current ruling party in the Somali Region and holds twenty three (23) federal parliamentary seats.

 

 Memories of Repression and Exclusion

Prior to Federalism and the overthrowing of the Derg Military Regime, the Somali Regional community faced irreversible displacement, land grabs, lack-of resources, conflict, famine, no sense of ownership, imprisonment and micro and macro levels of fear.

“During the Derg Regime, we did not have the right to live, let alone have the right to resources, self-governance or even proudly speak our native Somali language…those days were truly unbearable.” says Bisharo Ibrahim

Somali Regional natives were seen and treated as inferior under the Derg Military Regime and extremely isolated under Ethiopian Monarchies. As well, the Somali Region was hub for military bases and often systematically marginalized from all education, political, economic and social establishments.

‘During the early 1980s, the Somali Region was rendered a vast military zone. Ethiopian-Somalis often allude to the Derg’s rule over the Somali Region and the associated absence of social development as corresponding to ‘30 military camps and one high school.’ A short-lived façade of stability at the beginning of the 1980s was rudely disturbed by the 1983–84 famine. Deprived of traditional livelihood mechanisms of cross-border movement, trading, and cultivation, the Somali Region population plunged into a famine situation long before the whole country in 1984.’

 

‘Reversing over two decades of development, security and equality’

Many Ethiopian communities claim the ultimate aim of certain groups (ONEG/OLF, Ginbot7, etc) manipulating the current Oromo and Amhara protests is to de-stabilize and overturn the economic, social and political progress made in the last twenty five years. Before Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the Somali Region was debarred and disenfranchised from (right)fully participating in any institution of the country.

“The Somali Region is finally experiencing and enjoying equity in governmental representation, economic empowerment, development, security and social mobility,” Says President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi M. Omar

“But there are some misleading [and selfish] groups determined on reversing over two decades of countrywide equality and progress. It is really unfortunate.”

The diverse people of Ethiopia experience(d) and remember [history] differently; some label the current misunderstood protests as anti-Ethiopian unity  movements, some view these demonstrations as a chance for Ethiopia to “change”. What is perplexing and insensitive is seeing the flag of the Derg Military Regime in large public protests, as a symbol of freedom or justice – when, in fact, that very same flag triggers dismay and trauma for families in the regions of Somali, Afar, Tigray, Oromo, Amhara and all of Ethiopia.

 

What is the Ethiopian Government doing to meet the demands of dissent? 

According to a recent briefing from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

It is undeniable that a few people have hijacked local resistance and discourse for their own glory or gain, such as CEO of Oromo Media Network (OMN), Jawar Mohammed. It is also true that homegrown dissent need a more plausible platform to express their needs, concerns and peacefully mobilize sustainable change. The Ethiopian Government is doing their best to address and meet the objectives of protesters but there is always room for improvement. Collective actions must be taken to strengthen institutions and communities so that resources are additionally mobilized, palpable representation is further equalized, land disputes are sensibly resolved and, ultimately, Ethiopian federalism and constitutional rights are extensively (and lawfully) comprehended and practiced.

 

By: Hafsa Mohamed

“Transforming the Health Sector of our Region is a Shared Responsibility.” – ESRS RHB Head, Hassan Ismael

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ESRS RHB Head Hassan Ismael and  Federal State Health Minister Dr. Amir Aman

The health sector, in every Ethiopian region, is going under daily transformations and advancements to better service communities in both rural and urban areas. In the Somali Region, the Regional Health Bureau and administration has put great focus and priority on including all citizens of the region in the health expansion and betterment movement. Bureau Head Hassan Ismael, led an enlightening two-day region-wide health seminar, held panel discussions, unique engaging activities, accountability sessions, etc. to further strategize efficient methods-of-action in ensuring health sector success. This informative and high level conference was attended by zonal and district-level officials, doctors, medical professionals, academics, diaspora members, donors and students. During the various activities of this seminar, overt suggestions and promises were made and one main conclusion was reached: everyone will work together and do their part in achieving the objectives of Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP) in the coming years.

In my opinion, Bureau Head Hassan Ismael understands the complexities and potential of the health sector in the Somali Region; he specialized in public health, worked with several international NGOs, researched and published on unique approaches to community health improvement, etc. As well, Bureau Hassan Ismael is determined to de-stigmatize HIV/AIDs, family planning, women’s reproductive health and also create massive social mobilization/awareness throughout the Somali Region. This is only the beginning. Collectively, we can expand health services, construct hospitals or clinics in far towns, empower men and women living with stigmatized illnesses, train or capacitate health experts, and essentially become a health literate regional community. The ultimate aim is a plan “…towards quality and equity in health service, ‘woreda transformation’, a movement towards compassionate, respectful and caring health professionals and information revolution.”

Overall, it is commendable and admirable how Bureau Head Hassan Ismael is dedicated and persistent in actively working towards a healthier and stronger Somali Region.

 

 

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RHB Head Hassan Ismael Signs a *I Promise* form, to public display administration-level commitment.

 

 

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“In order to succeed in the Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), we all must be active role participants — from mother to zonal governor to doctor to student.” — RHB Head Hassan Ismael

 

By: Hafsa Mohamed

Admirable Qualities of President Abdi M. Omar

 

4th. September. 2016. Hafsa Mohamed and Ethiopian Somali Regional President, Abdi M. Omar, meeting in main office of President Abdi M. Omar.

I recently was honored and lucky enough to meet with the Ethiopian Somali Regional President, H.E. Abdi M. Omar. Our meeting was memorable, pleasant and I was (and still am) overwhelmed and elated. Without writing about just my conversation with President Abdi M. Omar, I want to elaborate on his exceptional qualities.

Admirable Qualities of President Abdi M. Omar

  • Empathetic
    • President Abdi M. Omar genuinely cares and will persistently work to uplift you.

 

  • Generous
    • The concept of giving or charity has several meanings. President Abdi M. Omar, upon meeting with him, will give you something – whether it is encouragement, support, advice, connection, etc. Whatever it may be, you will leave President Abdi M. Omar’s presence thinking of how one can be a better citizen and community serviceperson.

 

  • Strong and Confident Decision Maker
    • If there is a pressing task or decision that needs to be handled, most people weigh out options and are not confident with the next actions. President Abdi M. Omar understands and practices that in order to be a powerful and compassionate leader, no time must be wasted. Decision need to be made in a timely manner and so long as the intention is to develop and empower the community, every decision/conclusion is a correct one.

 

  • Brilliant
    • If you ask or discuss almost any subject with President Abdi M. Omar, he will provide you with an insight of knowledge on that issue and teach you something new. During my meeting with the Ethiopian Somali Regional State President, I learnt a few unforgettable things about agro-pastoralists, world water resources’, gender empowerment in developing nations, etc.

 

  • Down-to-Earth
    • Believe it or not – during my meeting with President Abdi M. Omar, I felt like I was speaking to a long-term friend who understood my ambitions and concerns. I say this because President Abdi M. Omar actively listened and gave me the feedback only a real loved one would give — someone who wants the very best for me, someone who truly cares for my wellbeing.

 

  • Integrity
    • Honesty is crucial to leadership. President Abdi M. Omar will, to say the least, keep it real with you. He will let you know the truth and is very open-minded. If you have an inquiry or are curious about something, understand that President Abdi M. Omar is perhaps the most coherent and factual leader you will meet in the [Horn of] Africa.

 

  • Authenticity
    • The Ethiopian Somali Regional State has experienced the leadership of several men but, in all honesty, none were as dedicated, truthful, pro-people and pro-Ethiopian unity, security-minded, socio-economic transformation active, gender-inclusive, development-oriented, etc. I could go on and on. President Abdi M. Omar is the most unique and passionate president the Somali Region has ever had; I am also positive he will be the only one of his kind.

 

  • Encouraging
    • As human beings, we all need moral support and kind words to continue facing challenges. The world, sometimes, is an unkind place. But when someone, especially of great significance, tells you that they have confidence in your work, ethics and believe in you as much as you believe in yourself, you become re-energized to do more for your community and yourself. President Abdi M. Omar gave me encouragement, enough to last a lifetime and enough to make me want to do better for my region, country, community, president, family and myself.

 

 

 

By: Hafsa Mohamed

One Regional President Leading a Multidimensional War Against Poverty in Ethiopia by Hafsa Mohamed

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The Somali Region is located in the eastern part of Ethiopia, with an estimated population of four to six million people. Prior to the current regional administration, the region was seen as an austerely underdeveloped, politically-unstable conflict zone. A decade ago, the focus was to have reliable and legitimate governance; today, with unprecedented progress and dedicated leadership, the aim is expunging poverty. Abdi Omar is the Somali Regional president (the leader behind the development, the visionary at the front of feasible transformation and the community organizer alongside the people).

“Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.” – UN Sustainable Development Goals 

 

There are three priorities emphasized by President Abdi Omar: mobilization of resources, education, environmental empowerment and gender equality.

There are various available resources in Ethiopia. Government budget, taxes that enable and sustain public services, direct and indirect financial support, investments in cooperatives and donations are some of the few the approaches I have witnessed during my stay the Somali Region. To change the economic situation of a community, sustainable livelihood techniques and devices must be utilized. Identify the root cause of poverty/problem, which, by the way, is often lack of resources or capital — then replace scarcity, by assembling and impartially sharing wherewithal, creating or planning for basic economic stability (where everyone benefits) and hoping for some sort of surplus. I did not study economics but that last sentence was fire. I wish the United States government did something like that. The Somali Regional President mobilizes the annual government budget by investing in key departments, such as the education, women and youth bureau(s), so that resources convert horizontally and trickle down to both the aspiring doctor and camel herder.

Education plays a massive role in sustainable development and the poverty eradication movement. When someone thinks of education, s/he/they picture institutional knowledge, which later results in employment or an employable populace. In reality, education comes from a variety of sources: skill or vocational training(s), experience or expertise, home, labor, etc. If and when applied and mobilized [by both the privileged and populace] equitably, education translates into wealth – and this all manifests into efficient economic growth. In the Somali Region, there are notable programs and initiatives in place to engage urban and rural populations to partake in educational activities based on their interests. There are technical schools for those who learn better with practice or their hands. There are health colleges for students who want to jump straight into the health profession. There are conventional universities, literacy courses, colleges and small organizations dedicated to equipping natives the Somali Region in proficiently partaking in the overall social, economic and political processes of Ethiopia. According to recent government reports and local testimonies, in the last five to seven years, there has been a tremendous increase in enrollment of students in public and private institutions and construction of all-purpose education-providing establishments. Abdi Omar, the Somali Regional President, has been at the forefront of expanding educational services through the region by being present at almost every school inauguration event, every foundation-stone setting ceremony and graduation. Why? To essentially offer support to the youth and regional community and to ensure that an improved and thriving economy awaits.  Students might have the vision to eradicate poverty, whether on a personal or family altitude, but with unswerving support from the president of the region, they recognize the significance of human agency and community.

Majority of the Somali regional community are agro-pastoralists. The livelihoods of rural community members —along with those in main cities—rely heavily on crop and livestock productions. In Ethiopia’s Phase Two of the national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII), it is highlighted that to reduce and eradicate poverty in rural areas, there needs to be an “1) increased and market oriented crop production and productivity; 2) increased livestock production and productivity; 3) reduced degradation and improved productivity of natural resources; and 4) enhanced food security.”  President Abdi Omar has distributed devices and prioritized agricultural strategies to lessen rural poverty and protect the environment. For example, there are over a hundred irrigation and drainage projects currently ongoing in the region. As well, tractors are being dispensed to local farmers so that they may successfully farm and produce. Furthermore, animal health and livestock markets are becoming normalized concepts, indicating urbanization and rural development can occur at the same time while supporting each other rather than conflicting.

Poverty can only be abolished through a collective of initiatives, resources, and people. No one method can actively work in uplifting socio-economic statuses of poverty-stricken communities. Gender equality is vital in wealth creation and economic development, security, production and the universal well-being of humans. Women in the Somali Region are the backbone of the labor force and, in recent years, have taken on powerful leadership and commerce roles. For example, almost all the district finance heads in the Somali Region are women. President Abdi Omar earnestly and overtly encourages girls and women by facilitating opportunities and grants for them to transform their lives and positions in society. The Vice President of the Somali Region, Suad Ahmed, who is one of the key decision makers, is an exemplar of how gender empowerment is evident under President Abdi Omar’s regional administration. Still, even with women in government, business and labor, gender equality is an ongoing global battle that proactively and correspondingly partakes in the war against poverty. Poverty eradication requires public and women participation.

Similar to movements and efforts towards poverty eradication, obstacles are also apparent. As astounding and irrefutable the hard work of the Somali Regional president is, one individual cannot do it all alone.  Government, international humanitarian organizations and wealthy businesspersons should step up and build capacity of smaller entities of their reputable or related fields. For example, international humanitarian offices must provide support to local NGOs, larger government bureaus should be transparent in dealing with smaller governmental agencies and big businesses should be legally required to give space for small companies to excel.

According to a recent World Bank report, Ethiopia’s economy has made “…remarkable expansion with the gross domestic product (GDP) growing by an average 10.9% in the past decade, compared to a 5.4% average throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.” The country’s economic growth will rapidly continue so long as public and private sectors are made firm and flexible and people participation in economic mobility increases. Resource mobilization, gender equality, education accessibility and everything environment related should be understood and practiced as independent and interdependent factors in eradicating poverty on a macro and micro level. When one individual, such as President Abdi Omar, comprehends and responds on this incontrovertible fact: the war against poverty necessitates multitasking and multidimensional [collective] actions — powerful economic advancements (opposite of destitution) becomes that much more attainable in developing nations.

 

By Hafsa Mohamed

 

 

An American Experience: Security and Development in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

An American Experience: Security and Development in the Somali Region of Ethiopia

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Photo: Hafsa Mohamed preparing to present on my experiences in Ethiopia, to an audience of Diaspora members in San Diego, California.

Development and security, in the Global South, are trivial concepts that often challenge or eliminate justice from the equation of democracy. In the case of Ethiopia, particularly the Somali Region, security, development and justice are interdependent and active components of the existing regional progression. Only after working in Jijiga and traveling the Somali Region for about two years did I come to completely understand this: the peace, the public, governmental and private sector are being driven and dynamically transformed by the [local] people.

As many of you may know, Ethiopia is an ancient nation, frequently mentioned for its authentic and non-colonized history. And, as of contemporary day, Ethiopia is highly recognized and commended for its rigorous Post Derg Regime (after 1991) efforts to be a democratic federalism and socio-economically stable. For me, I knew Ethiopia in an ordinary yet personal sense – a place my father originates from. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies, I made the drastic decision to temporarily move to Ethiopia, essentially to connect and learn; as well, to apply the knowledge I have obtained from an American university.  The education I received in America did not necessarily apply, in terms of relevance, to Ethiopia but with a little bit of modification and collective agency, I became an educator at a local college and later at the main Public Management Institute in Jijiga. While teaching sociology and gender studies, I decided to note, observe and explore the [all-round] development and security in the country and Somali Region. Let’s say I took on the qualitative approach, in understanding the region’s past, present and future. In other words, all I ever (or mostly) did was actively listen to the stories and personal accounts of locals, family members, poor and wealthy folk, officers, pastoralists, officials, children and practically anyone you can possibly think of.

 

Security

Before leaving the United States, I dealt with a variety of Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) sympathizers and general skeptics fear-monger me with remarks like, “You cannot speak your mind there,” “Your iPhone will be confiscated by the government,” “Rape occurs way too often there, be careful”, “It’s a conflicted region,” “Taking pictures will get you jailed,” and so on. I was scared; but I convinced myself that I would never know the realities on the ground without spending a substantial amount of time living and working in the region. I arrived in Jijiga in the fall of 2014, eager and ready to discover the land of my foreparents. After landing, the first thing I did was whip out my iPhone – briefly forgetting the silly warnings I received in comfy California — and snap a photo of Wilwal International Airport (Jijiga, Ethiopia). Onlookers, natives to be exact, smiled and welcomed me “home”. I felt – hmmm, so I did not get jailed for taking photos and using an iPhone, onto debunking more misconceptions. Security is a sensitive global, national and local issue; it is highly prioritized, misunderstood and often wrongly practiced. In the Horn of Africa, Al-Shabab (terrorist organization mainly operating in Somalia) is considerably the center of counter-terrorism activities. In Ethiopia, terrorism in a global and regional sense is a governmental and communal focus. To be precise, Al-Shabab and vanishing insurgencies or rebel groups (e.g ONLF) are combated, apprehended, etc. Amongst all that, you have the under-credited Ethiopian Somali Regional State Administration doing tremendous and necessary performances in keeping Ethiopia safe, as well as limiting or preventing the chances of terrorists infiltrating neighboring nations and regions. Fact: The Somali Region of Ethiopia borders Djibouti, Somaliland, Somalia and Kenya. Liyu (Special) Forces is a regional police entity made up of local men and women, many rehabilitated from the now-eradicated Ogaden National Liberation Front, who take ownership and act as a community-ran police force. From my friendly encounters with Liyu Forces and public narratives, they are behind the enjoyed and cultivated peace in the Somali Region. These uniformed men and women serve as civil servants, who protect and serve – while also enabling the incredible transformations occurring in health, gender, finance, etc. departments. Security in the Somali Region is something that I experienced every day and a topic I plan on academically researching soon.

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Photo: Ethiopian Somali Regional State President, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, leading a counterterrorism seminar for youth from neighboring Somalia.

 

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Photo: A woman Liyu (Special) Force member.

 

Development

When I think of “development”, as a notion, I envision buildings, roads, and attractive infrastructure. Then, I think deeper and include quality schools, hospitals, offices and community participation in all developmental processes. There is an international hype or spotlight on development; it is incorporated in nearly every sector or measure in both emerging and advanced countries. In the Somali Region of Ethiopia, development is evident and unique. Just six years ago — before the Presidency of Abdi Mohamoud Omar — public services, transparent governance, and even the community bravado to say, “We, too, are Ethiopian” were unarguably fictional. Without using words to explain development in the Somali Region, I will illustrate in a few pictures and a video.

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Photo of Public Services Improving Rapidly: Before and After of Kebri Dahar International Airport

 

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Photo of Jijiga, the busy capital city of the Somali Region of Ethiopia. (Photo Credit: Tom Broadhurst)

 

Video of Public/Health Services Transforming: West Imey District — An elderly woman from suffering from semi-blinding cataracts is able to see again. In elation and gratefulness, she shouts, “It’s true!” over and over again, in Somali.

 

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Photo : Expanding of Healthcare Accessibility — Health Bureau Head, Abdifatah Seid, walking through the soon-to-be completed 350 room General Hospital of Kebri Dahar City.

 

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Photo: Owning Identity — The future/young Ethiopians from the Somali Region displaying nationalism by painting flag colors on their faces.

 

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Photo: Owning Identity — Culture and Tourism Bureau Head, Bashe Abdi, carrying the Somali Regional flag in the streets of Jijiga, during one of the many cultural festivals.

 

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Photo: Transparent Governance — Head of Bureau of Finance and Economic Development, Ahmed Abdi, and fellow colleague discuss with community of Erer Zone how poverty can cooperatively be eradicated in Ethiopia.

Do not get me wrong. Challenges exist. “Democracy”, freedom of speech, political inclusion, bureaucracy and land issues exist in the United States, imagine a developing country. What I am trying to say is, we should not totally discredit or dismiss the discernible strides towards tangible [social, economic, and political] improvement made by countries like Ethiopia simply because they face misinterpreted obstacles, in one aspect or another. Development, as exemplified in the above footage, will continue and shape the future of the Somali Region and country.

Overall, the security and developmental initiatives in the Somali Region (which manifests throughout the Horn of Africa) stem or are mobilized by the people and financed, sustained and administered by the [regional] government. Ethiopia plans on becoming a middle-income country by the year 2025 – this will be made achievable, primarily, by the people. The community is the key source behind regional integration, a successful economy, political and social mobility. That is what I have concluded during my time in the Somali Region. Each region in Ethiopia differs, in culture, challenges, etc; but the Somali Region – where the populace is directly represented in all institutions — is a role model in diplomacy, gender empowerment, good governance, horizontal interactions, economic justice and general development. Yes, there’s a long way ‘til objectives are reached, but, so long as President Abdi Mohamoud Omar is leading the Somali Region, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa can expect affirmative, sustainable, uplifting development and security results. Well, that is, in my own empirically-based opinion.

 

By Hafsa Mohamed

3 Reasons Why Dr. Tedros Adhanom Should Be the Next WHO Director-General

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3 Reasons Why Dr. Tedros Adhanom Should Be the Next WHO Director-General

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized United Nations (UN) entity that focuses and acts on international [public] health issues. WHO prioritizes ending and preventing epidemics, pandemics, communicable diseases (AIDs, Ebola, Malaria, etc.) and ray of other global health concerns. Elections for a new Director-General will take place on May 2017, during the 70th session of the WHO Assembly. Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the current Foreign Affairs Minister of Ethiopia, recently announced his candidature for the WHO Director-General post. There are many reasons to endorse and support Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s “Together for a Healthier World” campaign to lead the most funded and accomplished health organization — serving thousands of communities.

        Here are three important reasons why Dr. Tedros Adhanom should be the next WHO General-Director.

 1. Achievements

  • Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham and Master of Science (MSc) in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London (UK).
  • Ethiopia’s Current Foreign Affairs Minister.
  • Former Minister of Health (October 2005 – November 2012)
    • Transformed Ethiopia’s health system through a comprehensive agenda of reform
    • Reducing infant mortality, AIDs, etc.
    • Invested in Sustainable Infrastructure
    • Mobilized the health workforce and developing innovative funding mechanisms
    • Trained and integrated women into the health workforce
    • Expanded health access to care to millions of Ethiopia,
  • Former Chairman of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2009-2011)
  • Served on the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (2007-2009) and the Program Coordinating Board of UNAIDS (2009-2011), Co-Chaired The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (2005-2009), and as a board member for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
  • Edited and co-authored numerous academic writings
    • More 25 articles in prominent scientific journals including Nature, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology.
  • Tedros Adhanom has been endorsed by fellow politicians, international organizations, health institutes and many more.
  • Political and Health leadership of more than 30years

 

 2. Gender Mobilization

Women and girls experience health disparities and general disenfranchisement more than men, in every way and space possible. Whether She is in the London or Addis Ababa, in Nebraska or Ankara, women are often excluded from significant health movements, policies, devices, services and representation. How can governments or health establishments find a cure to cancer, reduce infant mortality rates, and prevent epidemics without incorporating and mobilizing women? Dr. Tedros, in a press release statement stated, “Women are the backbone of society, yet in too many cases, they remain the most underserved by our policies. If we’re going to improve the lives of all people, we have a clear responsibility to champion the rights of girls and women, and put them at the center of all the programs.” World Health Organization (WHO) needs a Director General who will prioritize the wellbeing and empowerment of women and girls in developing and developed countries. And developing and developed countries need gender-equality believing/practicing academics, like Dr. Tedros Adhanom, in lead positions of purposeful organizations.

 3. African Representation

The World Health Organization (WHO), so far, has had seven Director-Generals, most of them being male and from the Global North. There has never been a WHO African Director-General. With all the WHO campaigns that dominate or focus in Africa, it would only make sense to have Director-General who understands the health inequalities, healthcare complexities, lack of resources or health department funding and so on – not only from an expertise position but also from an experience stance. Dr. Tedros Adhanom, if and when elected as WHO Director-General, will represent Africa and emerging nations by engineering sustainable programs that will effectively bring transformation to health sectors across the world.

Of course, there are many other reasons to support the WHO candidate, Dr. Tedros Adhanom. For now, let’s just say, it’s about time WHO elects a Director-General who will mobilize and uplift women and girls, efficiently represent the global south and has the knowledge, merits and credibility.

 

By: Hafsa O. Mohamed

Dhaqan Xumo Gabay (Poem)

 

Unnamed poet addresses almost every issue facing youth and elderly members in the Horn of Africa diaspora. He speaks on youngsters/diaspora losing their language, culture, etc. willingly & in exchange it all for cultures that will never accept him/her. After assessing the problems of qurbaha/abroad or those seeking a life of *only the abroad*, the poet encourages the diaspora to invest in the homeland and to be steadfast in their roots…and essentially calls for unification. So moving, mashallah.

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My Experience in Kenya

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My name is Hafsa Omar Mohamed. I was born in Toronto, Canada and now reside in San Diego, California. My family is from Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. I consider myself Canadian American. The concept of identity is perplexing but when analyzed and discussed, I find fluidity (I’m not confided to one national, ethnical, or preferable identity). Although I was born in a “western” country, I know the hardships of trying to make it as an immigrant in America by having witnessed my parents try their best to instill in their children an appreciation for higher learning and strive to help us obtain an education. They understood that doing so would later alleviate the burdens of capitalism and poverty. I am student at San Diego State University, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Women Studies. My mother prefers I specialize in a profession related to the medical field. However, I strongly feel that in order to be an effective advocate for change in my community, I’d have to learn something within the fields of sociology or law. I decided to minor in Women Studies because I want to change gender inequality. Although I don’t live in City Heights anymore, I live in close proximity to it and am there every day. Most of my relatives live, work, and or attend school in City Heights. I currently work and volunteer at progressive organizations such as Alliance San Diego (Formerly known as Equality Alliance San Diego), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Horn of Africa, and American Federation of Teachers. All of these organizations help mobilize underserved communities–district three and four. This past summer, I was in Kenya for about a month (I really wanted to stay longer). My trip there was very different from the first time I visited about fourteen years ago; a lot has changed in terms of society and infrastructure. I want to share some of my experiences with you all. Here we go! 

Kenya

A country of highly educated, hardworking, and beautiful people.

Kenya(ns)

Kenya is a marvelous and diverse country. The food is amazing and human interaction is authentic. Streets are forever active with people visiting shops, riding buses, and fresh food vendors. There are huge shopping centers, theme parks, monkey parks, art museums, live street music, and everything in between. Believe it or not, there is way more to Kenya than the stereotypical safaris, Maasai warriors, and long-distance runners you see on television.

The people in Nairobi were hospitable and quite social. I’d walk the roads, ride the “matatus” go to shops, eat at restaurants; I felt sincerely embraced. Matatus are crazy miniature-dancehall buses that take you from one place to the other faster than any compact car ever. In these matatus, many people are reading, talking politics, enjoying the scenery, and or dancing. Come evening, a lot of these matatus turn into rave-like buses – flashing colorful lights and bumping to danceable music; it’s so much fun. In addition, almost everyone I met was well learnt, an avid reader, and or a diligent hustler. It was a slice of paradise. As I made observations, I vowed to somehow implement the Kenyans’ hard work ethic in my own life. The majority of Kenyans I met took civic engagement, education, and politics very seriously. I’m not accustomed to seeing much of this type of overt intellectualism and or interaction here in California, so imagine how elated I was to converse with and gain knowledge from new and creative perspectives. People were easy to befriend. When I was stranded at Java House (a coffee shop) and waiting on a ride, I met Patrick Bakira. He immediately struck up a conversation with me about politics and social issues. I knew I had to put aside my beliefs to truly be objective and open to learning and appreciating other ideas. What Americans consider to be social justice, feminism, or inequality, is not necessarily applicable in Kenya. Interpretations are dissimilar; also, we must keep in mind that their conflicts and experiences have been totally different than the West. For example, economic inequality in the United States differs than that in Kenya. Why? A couple of reasons could be due to their varied values and constitution. Although the approach, outlooks, and processes are unique, the objective is universal–the betterment of society. Patrick Bakira is an academic researcher, community leader, and a commerce degree holder. Yes, I said “academic researcher”! He passionately described his past efforts to bring social and economic mobility to the Kenyan youth, despite the disparities. I was able to relate since I too work closely with my community in elections, council meetings, and discussions to bring more resources to the underrepresented. Bakira expressed that the main problems in the Kenyan government are the misuse of funds and “lack of visionary leadership”. Corruption is rampant and as Bakira says, “anything goes when you have money. You can buy yourself into prestigious jobs and or out of almost any predicament”. Due to this, the many Kenyan youth encounter joblessness and disproportionate destitution. According to Bakira, the number one issue his country faces is a 40% unemployment rate. Were it not for corruption, some Kenyans argue that their country would be more prosperous both within the continent and globally. With all that said, the upcoming election and a new constitution are both very promising for the nation. The Kenyan election is set for the 4th of March 2013. Establishing a new constitution was far from easy; Kenyan people worked collectively for about two decades to achieve this massive change. The new constitution was promulgated in the summer of 2010 with a high approval rate amongst the majority of Kenyans. If the upcoming election is successful, it will strengthen Kenya’s lead position in the Horn of Africa. The new constitution promises equal opportunity, fair leadership, and prosperity for all Kenyans. The promulgation of this constitution gives hope to all those living in Kenya because it will play a key role in eradicating issues of corruption, nepotism, and tribalism. Patrick urges all Kenyans to unite and take advantage of their rights such as voting, speaking out against corruption, organizing protests, involving the media, and so forth.

 

Education

I cannot emphasize just how seriously education is taken in Kenya. It is a sight to see. Every Kenyan (or resident) I spoke with discussed the vitality a good education can lead to in a critical manner. This made me ponder about our drive for life-long learning in the United States. For instance, most of us living in America do not value the written word – particularly the youth. I’m no statistician but the number of Kenyans clutching something to read (or a resume to share) on a daily basis is incalculable. Moreover, given my love for education, I decided that I couldn’t leave Kenya without visiting a few schools. I wanted to get a feel of what the educational institutions were like for the youngsters in Kenya. After my first week in Nairobi, I asked a university student to take me to the primary schools and ‘slums’ of the city. Vivianne Muthoni, a student at Nairobi University specializing in Space Law, took the time to show me around Kibera and Mathare slums. Yes, I said “Space Law”! Vivianne spoke in detail about wanting to be the first to represent the Horn of Africa in the field of Space Law. Honestly, I didn’t know what Space Law was until I met Vivanne and the more I looked into it, the more I admired this young studious woman. Who would have thought there are rules regulating both national and international law that oversee whatever happens in outer space? Furthermore, no matter where Vivianne and I went, it was the same at every educational institution- an abundance of astuteness and ingenuity. To put this simply, let me give you a comparison. The children here usually dread the “end-of-recess” bell, right? Well, Kenyan children welcome it – partially because their parents are really involved with their education and if one were to gripe about school, they’d get in trouble.  I started by visiting a parish at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa located in Kibera. This church-school reaches out to families by assessing their needs through education and spirituality. I sat down with a former student, Naomi, who is now the Administrative Secretary and Accounts Assistant at the school. Naomi highlighted that “in order to change a community for the better, you must offer skills training and education rather than just food or clothes.” Though I was carrying a digital camera to document as much of my trip as I could, I sensed much tension from the staff as well as from the students upon seeing it. Out of respect I turned it off. After meeting with the children of Presbyterian Church of East Africa, I realized why I should not have brought a camera in the first place. I overheard a kindergarten student speaking with his classmate, “Look at her. She has a camera ‘like the whites’. She’s trying to exploit us.” I was surprised at what the child said but I understood the weight and reality behind his reference. It surprised me that a child could be so mindful of the widespread exploitation and misrepresentation of Africa (many American adults are not). Naomi later stressed that countless aid-hungry “activists” come to Kibera with aimless promises and digital cameras yet do nothing else but treat them like commodities. Self-righteous and aid-oriented “activists” constantly bombard Kibera and eventually becoming a permanent fixture. Unfortunately many of these self-proclaimed activists merely photograph and document the plight of Africa (they capture only a miniscule representation of the social condition) purely for monetary gain. By auctioning and or advertising pictures of hungry black children, activists can make big bucks by getting funds through United Nations. Even though there are some well-meaning activists out there, we need to dispel and discuss the myth that all Africans are in need saving. Slums exist everywhere, not just in non-Western countries.

Mr. Kristof, I Presume?

saving Africa in the footsteps of Nicholas Kristof

Kathryn Mathers

http://dubois-online.org/sites/all/files/02mathers%282%29.pdf

Savages, Victims, and Saviors: The Metaphor of Human Rights by Makau Mutua

https://wiki.duke.edu/download/attachments/9509995/Mutua-Savages_Victims_and_Saviors.pdf

Garissa County

Garissa was an overwhelming five to six hour drive from Nairobi. Garissa is located in the Northeastern region of Kenya and is approximately 370km from Nairobi City. After our arrival in this small county on the 30th of June 2012, we checked into Nomad Palace Hotel and relaxed. Good thing because the following days were eventful and semi-terrifying. The main purpose of our trip was to visit my father’s extended family. I also intended to take photos of Kenya’s lovely landscape. Things didn’t go as planned. As we made our way through our relatives’ neighborhood, blood-chilling screams filled the air as grenades and guns went off. Confused and dazed, I found my feet running alongside others who too were seeking safety. I would describe it as surreal.  I knew full well it was happening, but I couldn’t believe I was in the middle of it. My father tried reassuring us by half-heartedly explaining how the “nearby military base” was “conducting routine exercises”. I thought to myself, “Ha! I seriously doubt the Kenyan army practices on its people!” My younger brother and I knew something terrible happened. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Oh shoot I’m going to die! Then I said to myself that we only die once so I might as well finish eating my pineapple and hide! Within minutes of hearing the loud blasts, we were notified that two churches were attacked in the area– the same churches we passed a few minutes earlier! The word on the street was that the attackers took off in a vehicle. After the attacks, I realized how my attire made me stick out like a sore thumb. Not a good look for the moment. The women in Garissa either dressed traditionally or Islamically. I didn’t quite fit either category. I was carrying a camera while wearing a small red scarf, ears poking out and everything. My clothing and the fact that I was carrying a camera, advertised to everyone that I was not a resident. The people in Garissa were resilient so I refused to be rigid. Thankfully we were near the one uncle with a compound-like house. We hid and waited while the military and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) crackdown went on. Whilst waiting at my uncle’s home, I changed into a bigger scarf and hid the camera. After a couple of hours we left for the hotel, which faced barricades and officers who were ready to shoot. Seventeen innocent Kenyans lost their lives that day and over fifty people were injured. The fact that the killings took place less than two hundred meters from where we stood was unsettling. Although I was well aware of the security alerts, I didn’t expect to face any “terror”. I managed to take some landscape pictures on my way to and from Garissa. When I speak to others about my trip, I try to leave the part about the attack out because I would hate for people to think of Kenya as some poverty-stricken warzone.

Kenya church attacks kill 17 near Somali border

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-01/africa/world_africa_kenya-explosions_1_grenade-attacks-al-shabaab-somali-border?_s=PM:AFRICA

Garissa Church Attacks

http://photos.nation.co.ke/en/component/k2/item/34-garissa-church-attacks

 

Overall…

Just like any other traveler, I arrived with my own ideas and assumptions. I departed from a “developing nation” with a deep void because I now yearn to see everyone around me engrossed in some type of reading material. Nonetheless, I achieved my main goal of visiting family. Everything else was secondary. I wouldn’t classify myself as a common sightseer as I didn’t engage in visiting typical tourist attractions. Rather, I had the opportunity to witness people in authentic real life situations. I also miss hearing the elders say that engaging with your community and being a role model to the youth are both very vital in generating a conscious society. If you were to ask me what resonated with me the most, I would have difficulty pinpointing one particular experience because the accumulation of them have had a profound effect on me. Nonetheless, I have to mention one thing I found amazing: primary, secondary, vocational schools, and institutions of higher education are constantly being built throughout Kenya. This made me think of California’s educational system and our current budget cuts; we face school closures, teacher layoffs, defunding of essential programs, etc. This trip transformed me into an even more educationally focused individual and I am grateful for that. Overall my journey was memorable, gratifying, and most of all, didactic. I recommend everyone visit Kenya and take-note. We should try to be innovative and determined in fostering societal changes that will lead to equal opportunities for all, not only the underprivileged. Besides the best fruits on earth, I think I would sneak back some Kenyan endurance and educational values – if customs would let me that is. All in all, I can’t wait to go on holiday…back to Kenya!