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Mogadishu enjoys rare treat of a peaceful Eid

Somalis in Mogadishu are enjoying a rare peaceful Eid, even if life remains precarious for many in the capital.
Last modified: 19 Aug 2012 19:54

There haven't been many peaceful Eids in Somalia, and in many parts of the country fighting between the armed group al-Shabab and African Union (AU) forces means many Somalis won't be celebrating.

Things are different in Mogadishu. The capital is enjoying its most peaceful period in years.

The Isbahaysiga Mosque is located on a hillside just opposite the parliament.

Last year, fighting in the city between al-Shabab and AU forces made Eid prayers here very dangerous.

This year it is a different story. The crowds outside Mogadishu's largest mosque are incredibly large.

Men and women queue patiently as they wait to be searched by Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers. With the president, various ministers, and politicians in attendance, the AU police and security forces are taking no chances. 

Dreaming of home

We met one worshipper who had just returned to Somalia, and couldn't believe the change. "I have been dreaming to come home, to share this with my people.  My lovely country today is quite interesting because it shows you the country is quite peaceful."

It is not just security that has improved.

Tony Burns from the Somali NGO SAACID says: "All the food resources that were mobilized for the famine in 2011, largely arrived too late, and are now being utilised in 2012.

"Very significant amounts of money are being utilised in cash giveaways and food hand outs largely in greater Mogadishu.

"Mogadishu is currently considered one of the most food secure population clusters in the country."

For families at Sayidhka, one of Mogadishu's largest IDP camps, things might have improved, but Eid doesn't feel very special.

People should be wearing their best clothes today, but they have no money to buy new clothes.

As we were leaving we discovered one man playing a traditional string instrument similar to the oud.

He was singing love songs, warning his woman he is suspicious and jealous. Women and children sang along, with big smiles on their faces.

Every time I come to Somalia I am moved by the resilence of the people.
 
Eid is about renewal and hope, something the Somali people need and deserve.