The Somali Media Centre is an independent forum for the Somali journalists in and outside the country. It is established to promote the profile of the brave, hardworking journalists who devoted their lives to serve their people worldwide.
Somalia has been dubbed as a failed state, a country associated with death, long running civil strife, warlords, terrorism and modern piracy. But one of the most successful stories over the years has been the rise of the independent media and freedom of thought. However, the dedication and reporting of the truth come at a price.
The Centre publishes running blogs by these journalists. Also, the Centre distributes news content and reports by the journalists. The Centre coordinates between the Somali and non-Somali journalists. It gives non-Somali journalists who may be traveling to Somalia with first hand advice and contacts. The Centre also works with high profile international media organizations in commissioning, producing and filing stories and reports about Somalia and the Horn of Africa region.
Solana Larsen writes about the origin of Somali Media Centre project:
In case you hadn't guessed, I'm not Somali.
In journalism school in London in 2002 I had a classmate named Harun Hassan who I used to ask a lot of questions about life in Mogadishu and Somali politics. After we graduated, we remained friends and I introduced him to writing for openDemocracy.net where I was a commissioning editor for a few years. Later on, I became a managing editor at Global Voices Online, where we occasionally also have stories about Somali bloggers.
Harun used to tell me about ideas he had for media projects involving the Somali community in London. He created a newsletter on paper in Somali, and at one point he approached me about making a website for something he called the Somali Media Centre.
Media coverage of the Somali community in the UK was so negative and inaccurate, Harun felt the only way to correct it, was to make it easier for UK journalists to find Somali journalists and researchers to talk to.
We made a website and blog, but we were soon distracted by other work and the project lay dormant.
The website you are looking at now, is our second attempt at creating a networking tool for Somali journalists and others to use to help improve global understanding of Somalis and Somalia.
Below are some of latest blog posts from The Somali Media Centre:
In a post titled, Affair to Remember, Fathia Absie writes about the conviction of Joshua Asisa, a peace-keeper in Somalia, for engaging in an affair with a young Somali woman:
Military court in Kampala convicted Joshua Asisa to a one-and-half years in prison. Mr. Asisa who is a member of the AMASOM peace-keepers in Somalia have been found guilty for engaging in an affair with a young Somali woman by the name of Nimco Omar and impregnating her after marrying her under a false pretence by telling her that he was a Muslim.
This story took place last year in Mogadisho but no one heard of it till this young woman went to Kampala and took Mr. Asisa to court for lying to her. Mohamed Abukar Ahmed who is the Journalist that broke the story has told me that he has learned the story after it was reported by a news paper in Uganda. After that Mr. Ahmed tried to get in touch with the leaders of the Somali community in Kambala and was able to get in touch with the girl. He told me that Ms. Omar told him about her story and how she met Mr. Asisa who is doctor. He was working at a private hospital for the Uganda military in Mogadisho.
“in the spirit of spreading the word..,” writes Idil Osman:
The recruitment taking place in the Somali refugee camps in Dadaab, Northeastern Kenya has stirred some controversial outbursts by many in and outside the region. However what I am particularly bewildered with is the stand-point of the Kenyan government. I did an investigative report on this issue earlier on at work where the defense minister of Kenya firmly claimed Kenya had not given permission for this recruitment to take place.
Meanwhile witnesses and human rights activists are recording and documenting evidence of these youngsters being put in Kenyan military trucks and driven to Kenyan military training bases.
Many of these youngsters are taken under false pretence and the promise of regular salary and a stable job with a UN/EU/AU backed military project.
In reality they are being recruited to go and fight in the very war they fled from and had turned them into refugees. Many of these young refugees are reported to be underage and taken without their parents’ consent. It also violated their international human right as refugees according to the recently released Human Rights Watch press release, because refugees are meant to be kept in civilian conditions.
Solana discusses the issue of “unnamed sources” in Western media reports in her post titled “When Local Sources go Unnamed“:
just picked up the latest edition of National Geographic Magazine for their story on “Shattered Somalia”. The photos of Mogadishu by Pascal Maitre are beautiful, though they show a lot of destruction. And the writer, Robert Draper gives a fair and sympathetic summary of a complicated history. He also definitely makes the challenges of foreign reporting in Somalia clear.
Curiously, Somali journalist Harun Hassan is mentioned by name in a photo caption of a traffic guard in Mogadishu, but as far as I can see nowhere in the text itself. Why the reluctance to reveal sources? If Draper has taken the trouble of contacting and interviewing Somali media sources, why not share this information with the readers?
Is this a typical experience of Somali journalists who assist Western journalists with their reporting? I hope members of the Somali Media Centre will help shed light on what it's like to be on that end of the reporting team.
You can see the list of current members of the Centre here.