Africa witness

People’s voice

Somali’s are enterprising people not terrorists

with 3 comments

Somali refugees walking in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb –predominantly occupied by Somali’s .

In my View

The recent ‘terrorist’ attack,on Police officers in Eastleigh, could soon trigger a xenophobic attack targeting the Somali community. Last week, an administration Police Officer (AP) was killed in a grenade attack in Eastleigh section III, a predominantly Somali suburb. Immediately after the incident, some Kenyan citizens apportioned blame on the Somali community residing in Eastleigh. Comments posted on Capital FM website, were shocking and racist in nature. Nearly all comments posted on the website- accused Somali refugees in Eastleigh of having a hand in the nasty incident. In my view, such comments could incite hatred against the Somali community, in turn triggering a xenophobic attack, similar to what happened in South Africa in May 2008.

Why the hatred

Somali refugees in Kenya-are not necessarily terrorists, but there is growing hatred against them, in some quarters- which I believe is because of their entrepreneurial skills. Twelve years back- when Somali refugees started arriving in Kenya, they basically had northing, but worked hard and generated a lot of money. They started buying property hence taking over Eastleigh where most buildings and businesses- belong to them. Somali refugees had two reasons for settling in Kenya. First, Kenya is closer to Somalia. Secondly Kenya has a huge population of ethnic Somali’s from the North Eastern province, so the Somali refugees considered Kenya to be a favorite country to seek asylum in- compared to other African countries.
Unfortunately Somali refugees in Kenya have been a target of both the Police and citizenry. The Kenyan Police often exhorts huge sums of money from Somali traders in Eastliegh under the guise of looking for illegal immigrants. In Some cases the Kenyan police have been accused of raping women and violating several rights of refuges. Kenyan citizens have accused Somali refugees of taking over their businesses. Some unscrupulous Kenyan business people have been behind the burning of several Somali owned shops in Eastleigh. Its simple logic, when you sell goods cheaper obviously customers will flood your shop. It’s the same logic Somalis have used to succeed in business. While, Asian traders in down town Nairobi insist on selling an item at Kshs: 500, the Somali merchant in Eastleigh will sell it at Kshs: 250, thus having more sales and a huge customer base. Since most traders fear to complete with Somali traders in Eastleigh, they have started accusing them of being beneficiaries of piracy money. Others call them terrorists.
In my view, this is a sign of cowardice. Even before the start of Piracy Somali’s were good businesspeople. It ought to be noted that, Somali businesses mainly thrive on the Islamic principle of trust and brotherhood. Muslims do not take ribaah (banking interests), besides, they trust each other with loans of merchandise or even seed capital.
In Kenya, the results of the past census were partly withheld because there were “too many Somalis”. So there was this fear that Somali’s (read-Muslims) were slowly overtaking Kenya. In the past Somali’s were only known to be informal traders, butchers, Miira sellers or truck drivers, but currently there are many Somalis heading big firms in Kenya, and political bodies which conservative Church people, are not happy about.
Somalis are enterprising people. Branding all Somali’s as terrorists or pirates is a stereotype.


Written by africawitness

December 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

3 Responses

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  1. its only people in the government and scholars can understand the importance of these poeple in the country. they contribute to the economy of the country. give citizens easy access to comodities that they could not reach at a reasonable price, whereby any one can afford. illitrate poeple who listen to the media just coz they want to sell are the ones who r on lose, coz end of the day its the everyday citizen that will suffer. And most of all kenyans should not forget that b4 the somali community, it was the asians, so why complain now.


    December 7, 2010 at 10:36 pm

  2. Kenyans don’t want Kenya to turn into Sudan, this is what’s going on here.


    March 19, 2011 at 12:53 am

    • If you are talking about NFD (North Eastern District) trying to secede from Kenya through economic and political power then this is a good thing, Somalis need freedom from the Kenyans ofcourse Nairobi and other parts will remain in Kenya but NFD is Somali homeland and belongs to Somali people and should therefore be a country run by Somalis or part of a country run by Somalis (Somalia).
      This is also a problem in Ethiopia where the Ogaden which is 99% Somali and has always been Somali homeland therefore it is bound to secede someday to join Somalia or become independent from Ethiopia and Somalia as its own state.


      June 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

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