Mogadishu knows only too well the tragedy of the sort of attacks experienced last month in Bamako and Paris but it is bouncing back strongerby Hassan Sheikh Mohamud / December 4, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
If we get knocked down, we get back up stronger and more determined than ever. As in Somalia, so around the world.
Four months ago, Mogadishu’s Jazeera Palace Hotel was nearly destroyed by a huge truck bomb in a wanton attack by terrorists as maniacal as those who attacked the Radisson Blue in Bamako on 20th November, and a concert, a sports stadium and the cafés in Paris on 13th November.
At the end of November, the rebuilt and refurbished Jazeera Palace announced that it was safe, sound and open for business again. This is not the only example of Somali resistance to terror; other successful businesses have been similarly attacked: the Village Restaurant famously three times, the Makka al Mukaram Hotel twice. Each time they have picked themselves up and quickly got back to work, their customers as keen as the businesses themselves not to be intimidated by those who want to drag them back to the dark ages. Somalia is a resilient country and Somalis are a resilient people.
Everyone knows that Somalia’s story over the last 25 years hasn’t been pretty. Civil war, piracy, famine, state failure and terror have been the all too familiar headlines. But now there is a new story, a story that shows the world that, together, these challenges can be overcome: violent extremism can be beaten. Of course, we still have a long way to go but since 2010, with the assistance of the African Union Mission in Somalia and our other partners, the Somali National Army has driven al-Shabaab out of all of Somalia’s major towns and cities and much of the rural hinterland. Proper political discourse is returning as we consult on our new constitution, federal system and prepare for the first democratic electoral process in 47 years. The economy is growing at a rate that most western countries would envy.