Somali writer denounces ‘harassment’ of ethnic kinsmen in Kenya

Renowned Somali writer Nurudin Farah has condemned the harassment of Somalis in Nairobi’s Eastleigh and the treatment of those in North Eastern Kenya “as second rate citizens.”

He said the massacres have not been acknowledged, adding that Kenya had benefited a great deal from the conflict in Somalia.

Kenya moved into Somalia in October 2011 in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants.

Mr Farah, who went on a self imposed exile from Somalia since 1976 after publishing the novel Naked Needle, spoke at the Nairobi National Museums at an event organised by the Nairobi Forum in conjunction with Kwani Trust.

The winner of the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for literature and the Lettre Ulysses Award, and several times nominee for Nobel Prize in Literature, traced the current Somali crisis to 1963 when it challenged the legacy of the colonial map of Africa.

“Somalia was isolated by the Organisation of Africa Unity because it singularly resisted the colonial boundaries. It, in return, turned its back on Africa and embraced the Middle East, the Gulf States and the Arab League.”

He said the conflict in Somalia was not a clan one, but one of power and economics.

Known for his no-holds barred combative approach, Mr Farah also waded into the sensitive subject of piracy, estimated in some quarters to be a multi-million-dollar industry.

Speaking in his soft, measured voice reminiscent of the late Chinua Achebe, the 68-year-old author told a full-house auditorium that contrary to reports, there are no pirates in Somalia.

“Somalia is a mysterious country and people invent stories about it in an attempt to understand it. The latest invention is that there are pirates in Somalia. There is no money in Somalia and there are no pirates there.”

The author known for his portrayal of strong women in male dominated societies in his books, said tribalism and female genital mutilation had kept Africa backward.

He said he would have no part of a government that did not recognise the equality of men and women, but would continue “keeping his country alive by writing about it.”


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