Following the terrorist attack in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, which claimed 385 lives, novelist Nadifa Mohamed is leading efforts to raise funds for the survivors. She has teamed up with compatriot Abdi Addow to launch a campaign for funds on GoFundMe.
In an essay in The Guardian UK, “How Many Dead Somalis Does It Take for Us to Care?,” she outlines something that has been on several minds since the attack: Where is the global rage and solidarity? She focuses on efforts to cater to survivors, particularly the work of Aamin Ambulance, a free ambulance service—the only free one—in Mogadishu.
The famed make-do-and-mend resilience of Mogadishu is built on the reputation of groups such as Aamin Ambulance. I had first seen their work online, a few months ago, when they responded to a much smaller attack. They rushed to the scene even though security forces often fire at ambulances in the confusion of smoke and crowds. And when I contacted them via Twitter on the night of the attack their primary concern was not for themselves, but whether there would be another attack that they would not have the resources to deal with. Led by a dentist, Abdulkadir Adan – who was inspired by the work of the Pakistani humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi – the service rushes into danger zones in a fleet of second-hand ambulances that once belonged to the fire service of a tiny Japanese island. They needed radios urgently, Adan said, because they relied on mobile phones to communicate, and the network was jammed with people trying to locate loved ones.
The GoFundMe appeal for Aamin Ambulance quickly took on a life of its own with donations from the supermodel Iman, the rapper K’naan and the group Coldplay: from Finland to South Korea, money arrives. We raised our target two times, and were elated when the United Nations donated 36 radios – so we could concentrate on other urgent supplies. I saw humanity and solidarity and didn’t think to ask who hadn’t been moved by this catastrophe – until I realised that London, my home city, had not marked this atrocity the way it has those in western cities: no flags at half-mast, no illumination of the London Eye in the blue and white of the Somali flag – not even a tweet from mayor Sadiq Khan. This failure to respond publicly was not inevitable but a choice – a choice that was not made in Istanbul, Toronto, Paris or Kuala Lumpur.
So how many dead Somalis does it take to muster the kind of sympathy that gushes out for cities closer to home?.Well, it seems that 358 dead is too low. Despite some western newspapers, including the Guardian, putting the attack on their front pages, compassion seems to be ebbing daily. There are many out there who prefer easy, flippant excuses – “That’s the religion of peace for you” – than to use their imagination and curiosity to offer sympathy to an individual who suffers and grieves no less than they.
Read the full essay HERE.
We applaud Nadifa Mohamed and Abdi Addow’s efforts.