Somali Journalists in 2007
On August 11, 2007, an unidentified gunman fatally shot Mahad Ahmed Elmi, a Somali journalist and Capital Voice Mogadishu manager, near his radio station in Mogadishu.
Upon his return from Mahad’s funeral, a car bomb explosion killed Ali Iman Sharmarke, a prominent figure in the Somali media industry and one of the owners of HornArik Radio and TV.
That day’s appalling events shook the Somali journalist community, as they felt vulnerable to the perpetrators targeting their colleagues. Consequently, many journalists fled the country in fear for their safety.
Safety concerns forced over 100 Somali journalists to flee their country in 2008 and seek a secure place to reside. Many sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Djibouti, Uganda, and Kenya, with the latter receiving the highest number of journalists. However, since most of these journalists had never been to Kenya, they faced significant challenges in finding employment and establishing a new life in a foreign country.
To address the challenges of exiled journalists in Kenya, the group formed the first Somali Exiled Journalists Association. Additionally, they registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and received identification cards, which enabled them to live in Kenya as refugees.
Furthermore, the Somali Exiled Journalists Association launched the first website for Somali journalists, “Wariyaha,” which translates to “the journalist” in English. Mohammed Abdullahi Adan Siidii, a former journalist from HornAfrik who had previously worked with Mahad Ahmed Elmi and Ali Iman Sharmarke, managed and named the website.
While residing in Kenya, the Somali Exiled Journalists Association had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Dahir Mohamud Geele, the Minister of Information for the Transitional Government of Somalia, in 2009. The meeting, led by the association’s newly elected chairman, Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Adan Siidii, was significant for both parties. It marked the first time the Minister of Information had engaged with Somali journalists living in the diaspora.
UNHCR has assisted in granting asylum to numerous Somali journalists in countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, and various European nations. Furthermore, some journalists have returned to Somalia and resumed work in local media organizations.
Unfortunately, tragic events befell some Somali journalists who decided to return to Mogadishu and continue their work. Abdi Satar Dahir Sabriye, one of the founders of SEJA, was among them and met an untimely death.
The Revival of Somali Journalism and Professionalism
After exiled Somali journalists returned to Somalia or resettled in Western countries, they stopped contributing content to the Wariyaha website, causing it to become abandoned and struggle to attract new material.
Consequently, the website manager repurposed it as a service provider platform, connecting Somali journalists, designers, and videographers in Somalia with potential clients online. This new website iteration facilitates connections between these professionals and individuals seeking their services.
In addition to helping Somali professionals, the Wariyaha website also serves as a platform for other African professionals.
If you require any information or assistance relating to Somali journalists or other professionals in Somalia, please do not hesitate to contact us.