FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Where Your Life is Worth One Bullet

by JAMES MURREN

We’ll call him Muhammed. He lives in a Somali refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia. He is Bantu, a clan that is severely discriminated against by other Somali clans. Why? Racism is part of it. His features are more “African”-looking, and his skin is much darker than the typical “Somali.”

He told me that after a week of riding in cars and buses, costing somewhere around 50 or so U.S. dollars, he arrived to eastern Ethiopia from and finally was settled in the camp where I was working. He is there with his parents and siblings, in a rocky, desolate piece of land where the wind blows long and hard all day and where the sun burns into your bones.

I asked him about life in Moqadishu, where he is from:

I would be sitting in school and outside would be a gun battle. We’d do our work like nothing was going on outside. This was typical. You get used to it.

About daily life:

Going to the market was very difficult. If you had money, the militias would see you and ask you to turn it over. If you wore nice clothes, or clean clothes, they’d see you and come up and say ‘You have nice clothes, so you must have money. Give it to me.’ And if you refused they’d pull out a bullet and ask you if you knew what is was. They’d say, ‘This is your life. Your life is worth one bullet.’ Give me your money or your life is over.

About being a refugee:

It’s ok. But my mind is in the U.S. I want to get there. I see myself with a backpack on and being on a campus. Studying in peace. I want to do something with computers.

I ask about his chances for resettlement to the West. Most countries like single men and women, those without famlies. Muhammed is with his family. They all share the same ration card. It decreases his odds greatly.

I tell him that I’ve read that Sudanese refugees would lie and say they were orphans, that their parents would hide in the camp during interview times. He says he would never do that, that he is not an orphan, that his family is everything to him. I suggest that maybe he could do more for them by getting out of the camp and getting his education. He thinks about it.

He speaks Somali, Arabic and English fluently. He is obviously intelligent. I’ve met many refugees over the years, and Muhammed stands out to me. My colleagues agree; he is unique.

Immediately, I liked him. He is warm, sincere, has a look in his eyes which you know you can trust. And he laughs, a lot!

How is it that his life has become this?

Leaving his hometown where his worth could have been devalued to nothing by a bullet fired by a warlord’s gang in a country without a government since 1991. A country currently occupied by Ethiopia, a U.S. ally in the “war on terror.” A place where the U.S. has its hands puppetting the geo-political goings-on.

Now he may end up living in a hut for the next decade or more, like some of his countrymen and women who first fled in 1991 and are still living in the camps. His beautiful mind wasted. The world never getting to see Muhammed’s potential.

And we lose too. We who sit in our comfort and idle our days reading news of the world and getting angry about it but do nothing to resolve it. Instead we take out a beer and shake our heads, maybe look up at the stars and give up, thinking it’s too big for one person to deal with.

Or is it? What if we all dealt with it in our own way? What if we make more of an effort?

Muhammed said to me when I was leaving:

Please. Do what you can for me? It’s all I ask.

I tell him I will do my best. But will I? What is my best? How will I know I have done everything I can, that it will be my best?

What about you? How will you know? Do you want to know?

JAMES MURREN can be reached at www.vagoscribe.wordpress.com, where you can read more about Somali life in eastern Ethiopia, in and out of refugee camps.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It.
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail