The Somali millennial; A tale of a lost generation?

4 min read

According to Wikipedia, a millennial or Gen Y is born between 1982-1996. However, in most studies, those born in the 80s and 90s are referred to as millennials. A generation is replacing baby boomers- those born in the 60s- in the workforce. Saudi Arabia and Chile exemplify millennial leadership in politics, but an abundance of millennial business leaders has been evident. 

I want to shed some light on the unfortunate dilemma that faces the Somali millennial. Somalia has not seen a functioning government since the Siad barre regime fell in 1991. the continued civil unrest and lack of functioning governance significantly impacted the Somali millennial. 

Are the Somali- populations, 75% youth- millennials, ready to step up and replace the aging baby boomers and assume responsibilities? 

To answer this question, we must first understand the circumstances they faced. 

The Somali millennials are divided into two different groups. 

1- Those raised or born in a foreign country- diaspora. 

This group of Somali millennials needs sound knowledge about the country or culture. Their parents fled the country and were raised or born in a foreign land as immigrants. A life that led them to adapt new culture and lifestyle. This group- diaspora millennials- were lucky enough to escape the chaos and have an opportunity for education and civilization. Some utilized the chance to get an education, and others joined the workforce. Ilham Omar is an example of those who took advantage of the opportunity and made something of herself. Unfortunately, those who didn’t get an education are far greater in number than others.

Moreover, with a bit of civilized culture, the uneducated diaspora crowds the Somali political market despite their limited knowledge of Somali culture. This created a situation where individuals with only a foreign language as a talent are favored and put in critical posts. For example, someone who worked as a taxi driver in London or a janitor in America is tasked to uphold a vital position. Moreover, this individual views his post as an opportunity to enrich himself while keeping his plans to return to his second job as a taxi driver. For example, it has been evident that a presidential candidate who was a taxi driver in Norway returned to his taxi in Oslo after losing. 

2- Those who grew up in the country amidst the civil war.

This unlucky group of Somali millennials, which I happen to be part of, faced much more different fates and challenges and became psychological victims of civil unrest. As a millennial who grew up in the country, I was a victim of a poor education system like every child at the time. I remember the first time I stepped foot in a real school; I was thirteen in 1999 and graduated from high school in 2004. Islamic studies and the (holy Quran) were what I knew before 1999. Basic Muslim knowledge and the knowledge of (the holy Quran)were good enough for me to start middle school. However, poor education, civil unrest, and tribalism made me suffer at a Malaysian university. Fortunately, the Malaysian university, like many others in Sudan, Yemen, India, and Pakistan, was accepting Somali high school certificates despite their knowledge of how poorly educated we were. However, it was a pre-requisite for the Somali students to do a one-year foundation before we commenced the degree program. Not to mention the two-year English language course. Most of us were lucky enough to have someone pay for a foreign university adopted, and some had a tough time adapting to a system and a whole world that was so new and very different from what we knew. 

A third group is Those who could not afford foreign education and continued their education in the same broken system. 

In conclusion, today, these three groups of millennials in Somalia compete in the political and business arena. However, the competition needs to be more fair and logical. Those raised in the country who are either educated at a foreign university or the local universities are now favored and have higher and better chances to step up to leadership. The advantage over the diaspora is understanding the Somali people in Somalia. So is the public opinion That a Somali millennial who grew up or was born in a foreign country can only be appointed to a post by nepotism, and usually, they only come to Somalia if they see an opportunity; meanwhile, the other group doesn’t have the luxury to leave the country, so he works harder and builds better relationships within his community.

This topic is to be continued.

However, I have yet to cover the inside dirty politics and the harsh competition that exists between the two groups. 


Salman Hassan.

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