My least favorite words in the Somali language are “deg deg.” They mean “breaking news.” Anytime I see this, I worry for my family and old friends. The words made their way to me Oct. 29, another dark day for the people of Mogadishu as twin bombings killed over 100, including a friend.

I called my mother immediately after the news of the bombings broke. She was fine but she felt the Earth move with the shockwaves from the bombs. The roof of their shack flew off. The next day she joined a volunteer group to clean up the rubble and rebuild.

I was worried for my mother last week as she went out to the same spot of the explosion. She could still smell the blood and came across  body parts, but she felt she had the responsibility to join other mothers to clean up the neighborhood. Unlike some countries, Somalia does not have a police system that can take over the scene and keep people away. No investigators, and all dead ones get buried the same day. People like my mom fill the gaps there.

At least 10 major explosions took place in this area in the past 10 years, and I was there for at least five. But a lot changed in the eight years I have lived outside Somalia. Somalis are becoming more resilient, their spirit is stronger than I have ever known. You can try to destroy their houses, kill them, but those still alive will come to help clean up and rebuild.

Abdi Nor Iftin is a Somali-American writer, radio journalist and public speaker. He lives in Yarmouth.

I can remember times when a single bomb would force people to empty their houses and flee their neighborhoods. That is not the case anymore. People return to the area of the bombing within a few minutes, clean up and put up temporary doors at their ruined homes until they can fix them.

The resilience is paying off. The Somali diaspora and those in the country are well-connected through social media. When a bomb goes off these days, those of us elsewhere send money to help the wounded pay for hospital fees. Families can afford to bury their loved ones. Several fundraisers pop up everywhere and social media is filled with love and support messages to those at home giving blood or volunteering to drive the wounded to the hospital.


Mom says any call she made locally in the past days was all about sending condolences to families she knows. I browse through social media finding familiar faces among the killed as friends post their photos.

I feel butterflies when my mother says she hopes we can talk again. You never know when and where the next bomb will be. She cannot stay at home all day to avoid the streets. She has to move around to buy food and milk. The bombers, a group called Al-Shabab, target newly built businesses, hotels and coffee shops, crowded markets and stores. Hotel attacks are popular these days. Most of these hotels are owned by Somali Americans. Despite this , my mom still has faith that some day Somalia will be a peaceful place.

Until that day comes she and I will always have these butterfly-filled moments in every call. I ask myself if there will ever come a time when she and I will talk like an American mother in Maine would talk to her child. When will we talk about topics such as movies, music, fun activities?

All these are just dreams in the distance. For the time being I worry for my family in Mogadishu.

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