Last year, a Somalian immigrant whose family had resettled in Canada when she was a child in the mid 1980s returned “home” to Somalia specifically to document the country’s “fun” and “beauty.”
A well-recognized journalist and media executive, Hodan Nalayeh had sought to share uplifting stories from her “home” and “change the narrative about her country,” according to NBC News.
Ever since the onset of the still-ongoing Somalia Civil War, the African nation has been beset by rampant terrorism, to the point that it’s become one of the “most dangerous countries in the world.” Nalayeh reportedly wanted to change this perception.
“She wanted to do stories on Somalia, positive stories, and wanted people to see the positive side of Somalia other than negative stories you hear in the mainstream media,” her British-Somali friend, Sadiyo Siad, said to NBC.
The journalist’s recent social media posts demonstrate how she used beautiful photos and positive commentary to carry out this mission:
— Hodan Nalayeh (@HodanTV) July 11, 2019
The island of #Ilisi is an hour away from #Kismayo and only local fishermen live there. It’s so clean & breathtaking. A perfect place for a day swim with the family. #Somalia pic.twitter.com/xwnx05SpIo
— Hodan Nalayeh (@HodanTV) July 11, 2019
Daily improvements are better than long term plans! On my #Dailywalk today, noticed the “Beerta Kismayo” has a fresh paint and the trees are even more beautiful inside!
Celebrate every little change because it does the mind and heart good. #NabadIyoBarwaaqo #Kismayo #Somalia pic.twitter.com/1S57WctNln
— Hodan Nalayeh (@HodanTV) July 7, 2019
— Hodan Nalayeh (@HodanTV) July 2, 2019
— Hodan Nalayeh (@HodanTV) June 26, 2019
“She spent her life devoted to serving the Somali people and reporting on positive, uplifting stories,” her family said in a recent Facebook statement. “Her dedicated mission was to spread light and love to the Somali world through her work in journalism.”
The statement was posted through her Facebook account last Saturday … a day after Nalayeh was murdered during a terrorist attack committed by Al-Shabaab.
“She was among 26 people killed by al-Shabab militants in Kismayo on Friday,” the BBC confirmed this week. “Nalayeh, who was nine months pregnant, and her husband were killed when the gunmen stormed a hotel where regional politicians and clan elders were discussing forthcoming regional elections.”
“Nalayeh has been credited with showing a different side to Somalia to the stories of civil war, militancy and famine,” the outlet added.
Yes, an arguably fraudulent side …
— Somalia Terror Updates (@SomaliTU) July 12, 2019
“She understood, as every good storyteller does, that the little moments in life matter just as much as the big ones,” Somali writer Asad Hussein said to The Washington Post in defense of her work. “Hodan noticed the people bathing in the ocean, the orchards in the courtyards, and the radiance of the setting sun, and she knew those were stories, too.”
But while well-intentioned, Nalayeh’s seemingly one-sided activist journalism hid the crude but inexorable realities of life in Somalia, where 73 percent of the population lives in abject poverty, where the average man or woman lives to only 51 years of age and where the youth unemployment rate is 67 percent, according to data from the United Nations’ World Food Programme that was released only four years ago.
Tragically, her death now serves as a stark reminder of this reality that she’d willfully chose to ignore. It also seems to serve as a reminder of why Somalia immigrants — be they immigrants to Canada or immigrants to the states — ought to be grateful for the chance to start afresh in the West. Not that Nalayeh hadn’t been grateful. But another well-known Somali immigrant, anti-Semitic Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, certainly hasn’t.
“Omar ought to be grateful that she lives in a country which protects her rights, which gives her prosperity, which gives her a structure of life — unimaginable in Mogadishu,” House Speaker Newt Gingrich opined this week in response to the ongoing controversy surrounding the congresswoman’s consistently anti-American statements and attitude. “And instead, she has contempt for the country which she’s been living in.”
It’s a contempt she’s housed within her soul since the day she stepped foot in the U.S. Speaking on a left-wing podcast last December, Omar described the disappointment she’d felt when her family arrived in the states back in 1992.
“I saw panhandlers on the side of the streets, there being trash everywhere, and graffiti on the side of the walls,” she complained. “I remember turning to my father and saying, ‘Well, this doesn’t look like the America you promised!”
But couldn’t the same be said of the Somalia that Nalayeh had begun portraying after she returned “home” last year? Except whereas Omar’s complaints pertained to the sort of realities you can see in any metropolitan on Earth — homeless people, litter, graffiti — the factors that make Somali a veritable hellhole are unique to only certain countries on Earth.
While Nalayeh made a concerted effort to hide it, this is the reality of life in Somalia:
For @IlhanMN @Ilhan I guess THIS is “just” given her dancing the other day. This is a picture of people in the great land of Somalia, starving under communism and war lord thievery. I guess that’s what she want here as a “just society.” pic.twitter.com/3FCTk2VVdv
— Bill Haydis (@bhaydis) July 11, 2019
26 killed, dozens wounded in Somali bombing, shooting attack
A suicide bomb and gun attack on a popular hotel in southern Somalia on Saturday killed 26 people, including many foreigners, and injured 56 others.#ripbianca #90DayFiance #Euphoria #EnglandCricketTeam pic.twitter.com/4RzaTtCi3L
— thevoiceofresistance (@thevoiceofresi1) July 15, 2019
I lost a former primary school teacher and a friend who taught me how to write Af-Soomaali in a refugee camp Dadaab. He was killed at #Kismayo attack today. His name is Weli Aden Mohamed. May his soul Rest In Peace and Allah grant him Jannah. #Somalia. pic.twitter.com/4kDenOjWiX
— Osman Ali Baar ?? ?? (@OsmanAbaar) July 13, 2019
#UPDATE:A pominent TV journalist ,Mohamed is among at least a dozen people killed on the ongoing Hotel attack in Kismayo town.The deceased has been working for SBC TV in Somalia- Witnesses pic.twitter.com/GZM1D3Xb0q
— Somalia Live News (@MohaBulbul) July 12, 2019
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