Somali’s are enterprising people not terrorists
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.