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Short Kenyan film wins first Oscar – VIDEO

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photo credit:nairobi news
A Kenyan film inspired by a terrorist attack on a Mandera-bound bus in December 2015 has become the first film shot in the country to win an Oscar.

The story line of the film Watu Wote, by three German students who had to camp in Mandera for several months, is based on the terrorist attack in which Muslims shielded Christians from Al-Shabaab attackers by offering them their Islamic attire to disguise themselves.

Young Female journalist uses the power of media to advocate for peace in Somalia

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Monday August 28, 2017

Leyla Osman Mohamud talks passionately about the role of media in achieving peace in Somalia, but her actions talk even louder than her words.

“I always wanted to be part of the change for peace so that future generations can live a life better than me,” says this young journalist, adding that she cheated death on numerous occasions while on assignment.

Leyla witnessed the suffering of innocent civilians as a result of a senseless, decades-long war, and that experience prompted her to become a radio war correspondent.

“There were times when I got caught up in crossfire while reporting. One time, my colleagues were killed right in front of me. It was a horrifying experience that left me shattered,” Leyla recalls.

In another incident, the young broadcast journalist escaped death by a whisker when an artillery shell smashed a building she was in, while reporting live in Mogadishu. “Many people listening to the live report thought I was dead,” she says.

These two experiences were reason enough for Leyla to quit her profession, but she decided to continue and use the power of media to advocate for peace. Now a producer, presenter and newscaster at Goobjoog, a leading multi-media news organization, Leyla is determined to fight the root causes of conflict and war in her country.

“Somalia has experienced conflict for so long, and media must fully embrace its role in building peace,” she says.

Leyla’s beliefs are shared by her confreres. Yusuf Hassan, a veteran journalist, says that media can contribute to peace by credibly informing audience on relevant issues. “If the media broadcasts nothing but the truth - that is a cornerstone for peace,” Yusuf adds. Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, adds: “Media is the channel through which dialogue can be forged to achieve peace.”

Leyla says that being a popular figure on TV and radio can be rewarding, but has its downsides in a country considered one of the most dangerous places to work as a journalist.

“It is can be very scary being a journalist in Somalia, particularly Mogadishu. I cannot go out without covering my face,” she says, but remains optimistic that all her good work will not be in vain.

Leyla strongly believes that female journalists in Somalia can play an even bigger role in fostering peace and security, given their persuasive skills.

“Women are the backbone of the society, have a better understanding of their communities and great love for people. Female journalists are in a better position to come up with the best programmes on peace and development,” she adds. 

Minneapolis Institute of Art announces its first exhibition of work by contemporary Somali artists

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Art Daily
Saturday August 19, 2017

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) will present “I Am Somali: Three Visual Artists from the Twin Cities,” an exhibition that celebrates the work of Hassan Nor, Aziz Osman, and Ifrah Mansour.
The artists share stories of exile, memory, identity, pride, and resilience through drawings, paintings, and film, displayed alongside traditional objects illustrating daily life in Somalia. On view August 19, 2017, to April 29, 2018, this exhibition marks the first time Mia will show work by contemporary Somali artists.

“Minneapolis is home to the largest Somali community in the U.S.,” said Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Head of the Arts of Africa and the Americas and Curator of African Art at Mia.
“It is an honor to showcase three generations of Somali artists who live in the Twin Cities. Their work counters the widely held idea that art by Muslims is non-figural, and they examine identity in a personal, vulnerable way, which is recognizable across cultures and religions.”

Nor and Osman were born in Somalia and grew up there, migrating to the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s after the outbreak of civil war at home.
Their drawings and paintings look to the past, depicting life in Somalia before the war and on their way to the U.S. Mansour, meanwhile, was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Minnesota. Her video addresses the cultural ignorance and stereotypes she encounters in her daily life.

To add context to the contemporary artwork, Mia is collaborating with the Somali Museum of Minnesota (SMM) to showcase five traditional objects illustrating daily life in Somalia. The artifacts include milk containers, a pair of sandals, a camel bell, and a Qur’an stand. 
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The exhibition’s title comes from a poem by Abdulkadir Hersi Siyad (1945–2005). In Somalia, poetry has long been the preferred medium for artistic expression; in fact, the country is sometimes called “the land of bards.” This is in part because of Somalia’s long Islamic tradition, which discourages the visual depiction of people but elevates the spoken word. Yet Somali artists have also turned to other media, including drawing, painting, photography, and video.

Programming related to “I Am Somali: Three Visual Artists from the Twin Cities” includes a panel discussion on Thursday, October 26, at 6 p.m. with Nor, Osman, and Mansour about issues they take to heart, such as art-making in Somali society, knowledge of traditional Somalia across generations, and being an immigrant in the United States.
The talk will be moderated by University of Minnesota sociologist Cawo Awa Abdi and Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, author of Somalis in Minnesota. Tickets are $10 for the general public; $5 for My Mia members; and free for African Art Affinity Group members. For reservations or information, call (612) 870-3000.

Hassan Nor, born in southern Somalia, is in his 80s. A self-taught artist, he has drawn since he was 19. He began life as a pastoralist, raising goats, cows and camels; later, he lived on a farm and worked as a tailor. He fled his homeland and resettled in the U.S. in 2002. His drawings depict narratives of daily life before the Somali Civil War that started in 1991, and also scenes of exile and migration. This is his first museum exhibition.

Aziz Osman, born in northern Somalia, is in his 60s. He grew up in Mogadishu, the country’s capital. In 1968, he received a scholarship to study in Florence, Italy. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, he lived in Italy and traveled through Europe until 1989.
He returned to Somalia, where he found inspiration and acclaim for his work, but when the war broke out he was forced to leave the country. He arrived in Minnesota in 1991 as part of the first wave of Somalis to resettle here. His work is both figural, depicting traditional life in Somalia, and semi-abstract, with colorful, geometrical shapes. Osman’s work has been shown at the Somali Museum of Minnesota, the African Development Center, the Midtown Global Market (where he did a mural), and Public Art St. Paul.

Ifrah Mansour, born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Minneapolis, is in her 30s. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, working in a variety of mediums including poetry, performance, puppetry, installations, and the visual arts.
She likes to interweave text, movement, and sound to create multisensory stories that illuminate the experiences of under-represented communities. Through exploring identity, trauma, and place, her immersive artworks connect and bridge different cultures and generations. Her piece in the show, Can I Touch It, is a multimedia installation of film, audio, fabric, and willow branches. The work intimately examines the mundane acts of transgression towards people of color and Muslim women.

AU troops ambushed in Somalia, al Shabaab says 39 killed

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Jul. 30, 2017, 3:00 pm
Civilians run from the scene of an explosion in Maka al Mukaram road in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 30, 2017. REUTERS

Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents and troops from the African Union peacekeeping mission clashed on Sunday, a senior military officer said, while the group said it had killed 39 soldiers.
The incident took place in Bulamareer district in Lower Shabelle region about 140 km southwest of Mogadishu.
The al Shabaab fighters ambushed a convoy carrying troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Col. Hassan Mohamed told Reuters.
"The ambush turned into a fierce fight between al Shabaab and AMISOM. We understand fighting is still going on but we do not have the figure of casualties," he told Reuters.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, said: "We have in hand 39 dead bodies of AU soldiers including their commander."
The casualty figure could not be immediately independently verified.
Government officials were not available for immediate comment.
Al Shabaab, which wants to force out the peacekeepers, oust the Western-backed government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam in Somalia, has targeted the peacekeepers in the past.

Terror suspects arrested in Eastleigh in 2010 found guilty

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Saturday July 29, 2017

Two terror suspects arrested in Eastleigh in September 2012 are guilty of being in possession of explosive chemicals, hand grenades, four riffles and several rounds of ammunition hence did not mean good for the country.
This comes even after the third suspect initially pleaded guilty to the charges.

Omar Abdi Aden alias Salman Abdi, Mushararaf Abdalla alias Shukri alias Sharif Abdalla Maalim alias Alex Shikanda, and Rashid Shwaitan alias Ali alias Bonny alias Blacky, could not escape from the wrath of the law even after their accomplice, Abdi Majid Yasin Mohammed alias Ali Hussein alias Brownny, sacrificed himself in 2012 to save them by pleading guilty to all the criminal charges they faced.

The court took note of the fact that Blacky had rented several houses in Nairobi including Lang’ata, Umoja, Embakasi and Eastleigh area within the short time he arrived in the Nairobi from Busia, before he was arrested at a Malindi hotel despite the fact that he also had rented another house in which he did not leave in.

“What causes even more suspicion against the second accused person is the fact that he never demanded for the much money he placed as deposit in all the houses he rented and never lived in for long, according to the house owners who testified before this court, it emerged that the accused person was always in a hurry to travel,” read the Magistrate.

On the other hand, the first accused person, Omar Abdi Aden, in his testimony, told the court that he was arrested and taken to Browny’s house in Eastleigh at 8 pm contrary to Browny’s testimony that the police arrived with Omar in his house between 1 am and 2 am on that particular day, the testimony which the court could not buy.

Professor Nandwa and Miss Gikonyo advocates for the accused asked the court to postpone mitigation before they are sentenced. The case will be mentioned on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 for mitigation and sentencing.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – briefly – becomes world's richest man

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Friday July 28, 2017

Share price jump of 40% in 2017 made founder worth $91bn – for a short while leapfrogging the fortune of Microsoft founder Bill Gates

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos briefly overtook Microsoft’s Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person.

Bezos leapfrogged Gates, who has been the richest man on the planet since 2013, after a rise in the share price of Amazon ahead of its latest results due Thursday night.

According to a real-time billionaires index compiled by Forbes, the rise pushed the value of Bezos’s fortune to $91bn (£69bn) – compared with Gates’ wealth of $90bn. Their riches are calculated on the share prices of their respective companies and at the current values Bezos’s stake is twice as big as carmaker Ford.

But the Amazon share price fell back leaving Gates on top, but with less than $1bn separating them.

Bezos – born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964 – keeps a relatively low profile, but has used some of the wealth he has amassed to buy the Washington Post and invest in space travel through Blue Origin, a company he founded in 2000.

He began Amazon in 1994 when he sold books from his garage in Seattle before expanding into a huge range of other products and capturing the global rush to online shopping.

Amazon now accounts for 43% of everything sold online in the US and 64 million people have signed up for its Prime service – which gives access to free deliveries and video streaming.
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Amazon shares have soared this year – making the company worth more than $500bn.
At the start of 2017, Bezos was ranked fourth-richest in the world, behind Gates, the investor Warren Buffett and Amancio Ortega, who founded Inditex, the company behind retailer Zara.

The share price rally comes despite accusations by Donald Trump, during the US election campaign, that Amazon was “getting away with murder, tax-wise”. He said Bezos was using the Washington Post for “political influence”.

In January, Bezos pledged the full legal resources of his company to fight the travel ban instituted by the new US president against seven Muslim-majority nations.
Amazon floated on the stock market in 1997. Every year Bezos reprints the letter he sent to shareholders that year, insisting it is only Day 1 for the company and pledging to focus on the long-term and be the market leader.

He has not joined the club of billionaires who pledge to hand over the majority of fortunes to charity – started by Gates and his wife, along with Buffett – but recently tweeted to ask for philanthropic ideas to help in the short term, which he said was in contrast to his long-term approach to running the business.

“I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now – short term – at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

Forbes started tracking billionaires in 1987 and Bezos is the seventh person to hold the title of the world’s richest person. In a report on his rise to the top of the rankings, Forbes said Bezos would not be at the top if Gates had not given so much of his wealth away and has calculated that Gates has been the richest person in the world for more than half the 30 years it had been watching the wealth of billionaires.
The closing share price of Amazon and Microsoft on Thursday will determine whether Bezos cements his position at the top of the league. Microsoft’s shares were down on Thursday.

Technology stocks have been outpacing the rest of the US stock market, but wobbled last month amid concerns that the sector might run of steam. Amazon and others then started to rally again. It remains to be seen whether Bezos is able to permanently claim the top slot.

Amazon has now expanded beyond retailing. It now sells cloud computing services to thousands of businesses ranging from Netflix to the UK’s ministry of justice. It also makes TV shows and the Echo smart speaker, which allows users to speak to Alexa, an electronic personal assistant.

Al Shabaab burn houses, abduct and steal livestock in Somalia attacks

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Jul. 27, 2017, 9:00 am
By NANCY AGUTU, @nancyagutu
An illustration prohibiting weapons, broken bottles, cigarettes and military is seen on a wall of a stadium in Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia, June 13, 2017. /REUTERS
Al Shabaab militants burnt many homes during raids on villages in Lower Shabelle, Somalia in May 2017, Human Rights Watch has said.
"The militia abducted civilians, stole livestock, and committed arson in attacks that caused more than 15,000 people to flee their homes," HRW said in a statement on Thursday.
Based on witness accounts and satellite imagery analysis, HRW said at the start of May, al Shabaab forces raided villages in the Merka and Afgooye districts of Lower Shabelle.
Senior Africa researcher Laetitia Bader said there was no justification for al Shaabab to abduct civilians and cause the mayhem in the region.
“The militia is responsible for causing mass flight, but the government needs to address communal tensions and hold those most responsible for abuses to account," she said.
In mid-May, Bader said fighting intensified around the Biyomaal stronghold in Afgooye district known as KM-50 and was followed by al Shabaab raids.
"They attacked villages after several months of calling on their residents to leave their homes, " she said.
Residents said al Shabaab stole large numbers of cows, goats and camels – critical for survival in the face of ongoing drought.
Local elders said hundreds of livestock were stolen, many died, and only a fraction have been returned to the community.
A man identified as Abdi told the Watch that he fled his village, Ceel Waregow after al Shabaab accused them of being murtads (infidels).
"They accused us of joining the government. Some of our elders have talked to al Shabaab and told them that those without guns should be spared," he said.
Abdi said the al Shabaab initially used to tax them and take livestock and money from them, "but now they are burning our homes.”
A woman from Bullo Mudey, whose father was killed and home burned in an attack said: “How can you stay in a place where there are constant attacks and where children are burned in the houses?”
Bader said those who commit war crimes in Somalia should eventually be brought to justice.
“However, the government and its backers need to immediately assist the people who escaped the violence," she said.
The United Nations reported that al Shabab abducted approximately 70 people, including women and children, from KM-50 village during fighting between May 21 and 23.
The UN found that about 100 houses were torched at the height of the attacks in the Merka district and that homes were also burned down in the village of Muuri and KM-50 in the Afgooye district on May 23.
According to the UN, 15,240 people were displaced at the height of the raids from May 21 to 24.
HRW spoke to 25 people in person in Mogadishu and by phone who fled from the two districts to Mogadishu and to Lower Shabelle, as well as to local elders and area experts, and analysed satellite imagery of 30 villages from the Merka district.
Inter-clan conflict, primarily between the Habar Gidir and Biyomaal clans, has increased in Lower Shabelle since 2013.
Both clans have fought with and against Somali government forces and al Shabaab.
Throughout this violence, civilians have been repeatedly targeted in retaliatory attacks.
Human Rights Watch analysed satellite imagery showing changes over time recorded between May 8 and July 12, 2017, and found evidence of widespread building destruction in 18 of 32 villages assessed in Merka district.
An open source data collection site reported fighting between the militia and Biyomaal clan militia and government forces in two of the 18 villages in which Human Rights Watch identified property destruction.
Somalia's economy is still picking up slowly after a combined force of the army and an African Union peacekeeping force helped drive the militia out of Mogadishu and other strongholds.
Al Shabaab wants to topple the western backed government and rule according to its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
The group remains formidable and lethal, with its campaign of frequent bombings and killings a key source of significant security risk for most businesses and regular life.