The journalistic legacy of Mohamud M. Afrah

One year ago Somali community in Nairobi  lost a Somali journalism luminary Mohamud Mohamed Afrah. Born in Mogadishu in 1935 Afrah spent the first decade of his life in Mogadishu and learned Koran. 

Early 1940s, when the British Military Administration was controlling Mogadishu, Afrah had been sent to what was known as British Kenya where he  remained until he finished primary and secondary  education. Afrah returned to Somalia when it gained independence in 1960. He was among the first group of employees at the Somali Ministry of Information. He was appointed as editor with the Somali National News Agency (SONNA). His diligence earned him scholarship in West Germany. He studied mass communications at Eningen. Afrah voraciously read the weekly Somali News  in which his letters were published.

In a letter published in 1966 Afrah recounted how at a press conference he challenged a journalist from Ethiopian Herald who had made misrepresentations about Somalia. When he had finished his studies and returned to Somalia he was promoted to managing editor of SONNA. In 1978 when the Ministry of Information and National Guidance launched Heegan, Afrah was appointed as the editor-in-chief. He edited Heegan until December 28 December 1990, when the last issue of the paper appeared. Afrah’s contemporaries include the late Said Bakar Mukhtar, Mohamed Roble Nur, deputy editor-in-chief, Hassan Ayeh Boqorreh, Abdulqadr A. Bolay, Saeed Abdisalam, Ahmed Zaki Gulaid and Musse Bashir. Afrah nurtured talents of many journalists whose careers took off at SONNA and Heegan. He edited the Quarterly Economic Review then based at the Somali Presidency and was a correspondent for Reuters.

Afrah remained in Mogadishu during January 1991 when United Somali Congress militias fought the forces loyal to the military dictatorship. His book Target: Villa Somalia, recounts the first phase of the internecine civil war in Southern Somalia.

His second book, Mogadishu: Hell on Earth, depicts an accurate picture of Mogadishu’s descend into clannish bloodletting that resulted in the 1992 famine.

Afrah left Somalia after 1992 and arrived in Canada. Afrah had a sense of humour, was generous and kind. He loved his country and people. “I owe a lot to Somalia and Somalis. I cannot promote divisive policies or sow discord among my compatriots” Afrah once told a group of Somali men and women,  who visited him in Toronto in 2005. Afrah will be remembered for his three decade-long service to Somali journalism under different conditions— parliamentary democracy followed by military dictatorship . His principled stand on the rights of the Somali citizen will inspire many people.

© Puntland Post Monthly,  2020

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