In March 2022, I traveled to Beledweyne for a Somali Public Agenda study. Since I concluded my secondary level education in Beledweyne in mid-2009, this was my fourth trip to the town. In the past 13 years, I had the opportunity to visit in 2010, 2018, 2021, and now 2022. This time, the Ugaas Khaliif Airport had a new terminal.
The city is hosting the election of 25 members of the House of the People of Somalia’s Federal Parliament. A parliamentary candidate was flying with us. We had to wait for a few minutes inside the plane while he was welcomed by his entourage. Supporters (and a paid entourage as a friend had told me had been the case in the past few weeks in Beledweyne) were gathered in front of the new terminal. Some were playing Wilisaqo, a famous play in the Hiiraan region. Armed soldiers and vehicles were around the crowd. The sun was hot, so we entered the terminal quickly and waited in there for our pick-up.
I lived in Beledweyne for three years (2006-2009). This was the most difficult period of my life. I used to live in Buundoweyn village. I would go to school in the morning without even drinking tea. At 9:30 am, we had a short 30 minutes break. During this break time, I used to go to a house in Koshin village for breakfast. I had to hurry. It would take 12 minutes to reach the house and another 12 minutes to come back to the school. Therefore, while I was doing my best to be on time, sometimes the school gate would be closed.
On our way to the airport, I told my colleagues how I used to use the same road over a decade ago going to the school hungry, having not eaten breakfast or even drunk a tea. It was a tough period of my life, but looking back, in retrospect, I told to my colleagues, it is a very beautiful memory. These were the days that shaped my life. I feel inspired by how I endured those tough periods and the energy and motivations I had for quality education and a better future.
My colleague Farhia Mohamud was among the research team doing the study in Beledweyne. Coincidently, we both graduated from Sheikh Mohamed Moalin Primary and Secondary school, albeit at different periods. One morning, we went to the school together. My former Tarbiya and Math teacher Tawani Maquul, who is the deputy principal of the school welcomed us. I also met my former Geography and History teacher Moalin Dirie who still teaches at the school. About six months ago, I visited the school and talked to all Form Four classes (four of them). I told my teacher that I was so happy to be one of the alumni of the school and be able to visit every time I come to Beledweyne.
Farhia and I talked to one of the Form Four classes. We did not miss the chance to take photos of ourselves at the school podium, which is decorated now. It was the same podium I stood when I was moderating the graduation ceremony after our final secondary examination in mid-2009.
I ran into my former high school classmate Hussein Diyeeshe who is currently a teacher at the school. We shared a moment of happiness and reminiscence. I also met with other classmates, Mohamed Farah Osoble & Feysal Mohamed Hashi, and talked to several other classmates over the phone during my short stay in Beledweyne.
Abtidoon Osman was my classmate at the al-Imra Institute of Languages in Buulaburte in 1998-99. He and his family live in Beledweyne. It was a great pleasure seeing him after many years. We talked about our memories over twenty years ago. We talked about our school classmates. We even called and talked to Naji Caagane, one of our classmates, who currently live in Europe.
Sometimes we do small things that we don’t see as having much value, but others appreciate greatly. One afternoon, I called Mohamed Qoordhere. He had a shop called Buulaburte Business Center (BBC) in front of the Hiiraan regional headquarters while I was a high school student. I used to visit and stay at his shop in the afternoon. When I talked to him, he appreciated the call much. I was very happy to reconnect with him, although it was only over the phone.
Despite the tense and fragile security situation in the town – due to the highly contested federal parliamentary elections – we concluded our field research in style. Ibrahim Xundubey who was working with us in Beledweyne organized a nice afternoon chat and tea at a farm in Beledweyne. Our SPA Board Chair, Ahmed Elmi, who is currently based in Beledweyne accompanied us. We had a beautiful afternoon full of fun, photos, and stories. The fruits, vegetables, and tea were special. Some of my friends had, after a long time, drunk tea with fresh goat milk.
I stayed in Beledweyne few days, but my short stay revived my memories. It is always a pleasure to reconnect with old friends, visit my former school and meet my relatives and teachers. I wish to be able to travel back to Beledweyne often and be able to contribute to its development in the future.