21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories



The International Writers Magazine: Comment

Thoughts while Shaving
Somalia, the Land of Angry Men and False Ideals

• Norman A Rubin


 Winter has come to Israel bringing cold winds, the needed rains and a cold bathroom where I was preparing my morning shave. I had to heat up a kettle of water as my sun heater closed down under the cloudy skies. Well, as I lathered to begin my shaving I thought of this messy world. We had a near disaster at some Nigerian fundamentalist wanted to continue the war on the **Crusaders, the Christian West. In Somalia his brothers of faith collected a ransom from the Chinese for the release of their hijacked boat. And in my land we received another condemnation for human rights abuse against the peace loving people of Gaza for hindering the Hamas in shooting off missiles to Israel. When I scraped the stubble off my chin I thought of the wonderful efforts of the Useless Nations, BBC and other chaps in white sneakers to smear Israel. This year there were twelve human rights violations voted on at the club of 190 odd nations – all was directed upon Israel by the Arab nations and their allies. Bless you Jimmy and Goldstone.

** The word crusader has become the universal derisory appellation throughout the Muslim world for the American and British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and today it connotes the people of the western countries.

As I rinsed I rinsed my razor I thought of the Somalia, a country torn by strife, drought and misery, even flash floods, but quite rich in piracy. Since 1991, till this very day, Somalia has been engulfed in anarchy. Years of peace negotiations between the various factions were useless with no results, and warlords and militias, mainly Muslim fundamentalists, ruled over individual pockets of land. And on top of the infighting a severe drought in 1992 plunged Somalia into a severe famine that killed 300,000; UN peacekeeping toy soldiers and American marines were called in to protect relief supplies for the needy citizens.  When the warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid ambushed UN troops and American marines and dragged American bodies through the streets causing U.S. willingness to involve itself in the fate of this lawless country and they withdrew, leaving 19,000 UN peacekeepers behind with a hopeless mission to protect the innocent civilians.


Somalia on the easternmost nation of the continent of Africa covers an area called the 'Horn of Africa' that juts outs in the Indian Ocean. Somalia is about the size of Texas and its neighbors are by Djibouti and the Gulf of Aden in the northwest, Ethiopia in the west, and Kenya in the southwest; its capital is the seaport of Mogadishu.


Somalia is one of the poorest countries in Africa and has to depend mainly on foreign aid for its existence. Most of the people are nomadic moving from place to place with their herds of goats, sheep and camels from sparse grassland to another. Agriculture is limited by low rainfall to river banks on the coastal regions between the Shebelle and Juba rivers. The frankincense and myrrh that was mentioned in Biblical passages is still collected from the wooded mountainous hilly area and is one of Somalia's exports.


The Somali are an ancient, proud people who have lived in this area of Africa for more than a thousand years. In ancient times, Somalia (called Punt "God's Land" by the ancient Egyptians) was a place where people from Egypt and other Levant countries went to buy gum Arabic, myrrh, frankincense, and ebony wood. During the 600's, the Quereishite kingdom was established by people from nearby Yemen. Between the 7th and 10th cent., immigrant Muslim Arabs and Persians established trading posts along Somalia's Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean coasts.

In the 1500's, Portugese explores and traders landed on the coast of Somalia and engaged in traded with local merchants. Later, parts of the land area of Somalia were ruled by the Sultan of Zanzibar at the southernmost part of the land. In the last half of the 1899's British, and Italian imperialism gained footholds in the country. The British established control over the northern portions to protect their colony of Aden and their trade route through the Suez Canal, while Italy first asserted its authority in the area in 1889 by creating a small protectorate in the central zone. In 1936, Italian Somaliland was combined with Somali-speaking districts of Ethiopia to form a province of the newly formed Italian East Africa.

The British army occupied all of Somalia during the Second World War; then from 1950 until its independence in 1960, Somalia was UN trust territory, with Italy as the administering authority. The country ( known as Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland) declared independence on July 1, 1960 and become a republic.


Then the troubles began – on October 21, 1969, the army and police took power in a coup and renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic – and the infighting continued through the years in its ferocity.  

© Norman A Rubin Jan 2009

More Comment


© Hackwriters 1999-2010 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.