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Somalis celebrate US recognition

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By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG: It is a Thursday evening in Mayfair – also known as little Mogadishu among Johannesburg’s residents. A group of middle aged Somali men are seated in a restaurant quietly listening to a televised announcement made by the US secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, recognizing the new Somali government led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. 

“I am extremely happy the United States has finally recognized our new government. I believe the US  government will now help Somalia in terms of  developmental aid which is much need for the reconstruction of our ‘wrecked’ institutions, such as education, health, infrastructure and human resource development,” Bashir Yunus, a Canadian-Somali currently doing business in South Africa explained.

Most of the Somali men seated in this restaurant related that they were closely following political developments back home. “I think the new US/Somali relations will make other world powers to also recognize the new Somali government, because the US is a world power and almost every nation in the world emulates them,” 56-year-old Yahaya Noordeen related.

The excitement and optimism was not limited to Johannesburg. The same sentiments were shared in Cape Town where the largest Somali community in South Africa resides. “The US recognition of the Somali government will pave the way for other countries to follow suit and start diplomatic relations with Somalia,” Ahmed Bodibodi stated confidently.

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He was now looking forward to the day when the US government would establish an embassy in Mogadishu which will make it easy for Somalis wishing to travel to the United States to get visas. He added that currently Somalis wishing to travel to the United States have to go to Nairobi in Kenya or Kampala in Uganda where the US has embassies. This, he said, was too costly for most Somalis.

Washington had not recognized a Somali government since warlords toppled dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. But in making her announcement on Thursday, Clinton said times have changed, citing the armed group al-Shabab’s retreat from every major Somali city. She said the US had provided $780m to African forces to help fight the militant group.

The White House also expressed optimism about Somalia’s future and pledged to work with the country’s new government to promote peace and security, improve the economy and boost social services. Obama has urged his Somali counterpart to “seize this unique opportunity to turn the page on two decades of civil strife”, according to a White House statement.

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Caution
“If the Somali government wants to succeed it should not be seen to be overdoing it in siding with the west. This could lead to the return of al-Shabab who has a hatred for the west,” Andrew Attah Asmoah, senior researcher on Horn of Africa at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) told said on Friday. He said recognition will help Somalia receive greater assistance from US and international aid agencies.

Asmoah also noted that the recognition was good for Somalis who live in the Diaspora as this would allow them to be viewed as people from a recognized state, compared to current stance where they are seen as people from a failed state. He said the new relations between the US and Somalia will lead to economic development and prosperity for Somalia. The US recognition of Somalia comes barely one year after Turkey recognized the new Somali government. 

Meanwhile, last year Britain organized the London Somali conference aimed at discussing ways of ending the two decades of civil war in Somalia. Several leaders attended the conference. Prior to the conference British foreign secretary William Hague also met with the Somalia community in Cape Town where he sought their views that was forwarded to the London conference. ( This piece was first published on the vocfm website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by africawitness

January 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

Posted in Travel

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Cape Town, most xenophobic city-Survey

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A xenophobic mob descends on homes of foreigners living in Alexandra Township, determined to drive them out.Agencies

By Hassan Isilow

In the past most foreign nationals preferred to live and work in the Western Cape because of the province’s renowned hospitality, but a new survey indicates that things have changed. The survey conducted by Pondering Panda was aimed at finding out how South Africans felt about foreigners running small Shops or (spazas) in the country.
According to Butch Rice, spokesperson for the research company, they interviewed 5,641 adult South African nationals from different demographic groups. 46% of respondents agreed that foreigners should be allowed to operate spaza shops while 44% were against foreigners running businesses with 10% being undecided. The majority of respondents in the Western Cape reportedly objected to the idea of foreigners running businesses, followed by the North West province.
Rice said poorer communities were most opposed to foreign businesses compared to the wealthier communities. The research also found that men were more opposed to foreigners running businesses compared to females. “About 48% of men felt that foreign run spazas should be stopped, compared to 40% of women,” said Rice.
Older people also responded negatively towards foreign owned businesses, compared to younger people. “About 54% of those aged 35 years and older were negatively disposed, compared to 43% of those aged between 18 and 24. Negative perceptions were uniform across racial groups,” the research stated. Rice added that the findings of this survey corroborate that SA was facing a very real threat of xenophobia.
Meanwhile, the attacks on foreigners continue in the Western Cape with an 18 year old Somali shopkeeper being shot and killed in Cape Town two weeks ago. In another incident, a 41 year old Somali truck driver was shot in Delft last week. Elsewhere in Mitchells Plain foreign shop owners found their spaza shops attacked with petrol bombs in what researchers say was a new trend that saw gangs extorting protection money from foreign shopkeepers.

Written by africawitness

August 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm

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