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:
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail