Despite community rejection of HBO TV series, public officials support the ongoing production

On a windy Wednesday afternoon, residents shuffled past guards and staff to get to their seats. The Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council (MHRC) held a hearing for residents to vote on allowing HBO to film its upcoming “Mogadishu, Minnesota” TV series on their premises. That day, Oct. 5, residents voted 51-0 and denied HBO access to filming in Cedar-Riverside Plaza. Continue Reading

Somali students protest hostile racial school climate

Somalis are under attack in St. Cloud because of their race (they are Black), their religion (they are Muslims), and their immigration/refugee status (they are perceived to be untrustworthy aliens).In the 1990s Somalis began to trickle into the city, and now they are probably the largest Black ethnic group, surpassing the number of Black Americans. Like Black Americans, they also experience intense racial and cultural animus. As compared with the White population, Somalis are sharply different in four categories: race (White European vs. Black African), religion (Christian vs. Continue Reading

Bill could boost funding for Somali youth

The funds would go to a partnership between the U and a nonprofit group. State lawmakers want to lend additional support to Somali youth in Minnesota who may be at risk of gang violence, drug abuse and radicalization.A bill introduced this session would appropriate state money to Ka Joog, a nonprofit that focuses on reducing adverse experiences and increasing educational opportunities for Somali youth.The legislation would expand the afterschool program the Takeoff 4H STEAM Club, which Ka Joog runs in partnership with the University of Minnesota. In addition, the bill would allocate funding for Ka Joog to start a pilot program that would create internship opportunities and job readiness training for youth.“It’s all about getting youth engaged and involved and giving them the skills to be productive adults,” said Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, author of the bill.The bill, which has already passed two legislative committees, would provide $1.9 million over the next biennium to expand the partnership program between Ka Joog and the University to other cities in Minnesota.Mohamed Farah, executive director of Ka Joog, said the proposed state funds would allow the program to reach other parts of Minnesota with large Somali populations, like Willmar, Rochester and St. Cloud.“We’ve had a lot of success in the Twin Cities, so we’re trying to take that where you have a high population of Somalis,” he said.Farah said Ka Joog was created in 2007 when a group of Somali youth met and discussed the problems their community was facing.“They wanted to create a foundation that does two things: One, get young people away from all negative influences, and two, put them in the right direction, which was and still is education,” Farah said.Jennifer Skuza, an assistant dean of the University’s Extension office, which helps run the program with Ka Joog, said the organizations partnered in 2014 to start the after-school program with funds from private and federal grants.The program allows kids to meet daily and work on projects related to science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, she said.“On a given day, they’ll be working on an engineering project. They’ll be working on a performance arts project, so you’ll see a content focus to it, but also there’s time for young people to have some tutoring as well as some homework help,” she said.The program, which currently exists in Eden Prairie, enrolled 25 members, but there are many more on a waiting list, Skuza said.With current funding sources, Skuza said the University and Ka Joog will bring the after-school program to schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis starting this summer.Farah said the organization also wants to establish more of an international presence, and it’s currently opening locations in East Africa.“It’s not just in Minnesota, but it’s also working with the international community to make sure that young people are thriving everywhere,” Farah said. Continue Reading

Remittances are lifelines between many immigrants and family members’ survival in Somalia and other East African countries

A remittance is an electronic wire transfer of funds from one country to another. For decades, many immigrant residents of the United States kept family members alive through this way of getting money across borders. Fears that terror groups like ISIS or Al-Shabaab would find ways to divert remittances to a terrorist effort prompted the United States to close down all of the channels for funds, not just from here to Somali or Ethiopia, but also to England, Denmark, Sweden and other countries where East Africans’ relatives might be living. Following earlier efforts by Rep. Keith Ellison and other congressional leaders, channels were reestablished, but on February 6th, the only remaining US channel, the Merchant Bank of California closed its money services business clients’ accounts.A rally in late February by Somali/East African leaders, joined by local and statewide officials began exploring additional steps to be taken by Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to again reopen these channels. Ventura Village’s Sadik Warfa, who is also Deputy Director of the Global Somali Diaspora, located in the neighborhood, stated, “ Although it’s a federal issue and must be solved by federal action, we are going to do our part to meet and develop a united front and explore the next steps to be taken to resolve this crisis. Continue Reading

Governor’s Appointment Draws Praise and Applause from Local Somali Community

It’s not everyday that a Governor’s appointment gets special attention, reception or special interest from local and international media. But then again, it’s not everyday that the governor appoints a minimum wage worker to oversee an agency that has such direct impact on the lives of thousands of people everyday. Ibrahim Mohamed, a cart driver for Air Serv is now part of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. His appointment drew more than fifty people, including Governor Dayton, members of the Metropolitan Airports Commission and community leaders on a chilly Tuesday evening at the Brian Coyle Center in the Cedar Riverside Neighborhood.  He is the first Somali-American to hold that post and was appointed by Governor Dayton in Febraury. Continue Reading

Obama nominates Katherine Simonds Dhanani as first U.S. Ambassador to Somalia in 24 years

President Barack Obama has nominated the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in 24 years. She is Katherine Simonds Dhanani, a Foreign Service veteran who has previously served in five other African countries in various capacities. Dhanani will be based in neighboring Kenya until the situation in Somalia stabilizes to allow the U.S. embassy to reopen.U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said in a statement to Mshale that the nomination was a sign of the “deepening relationship” between Somalia and the United States. “Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation. The United States is committed to supporting Somalia on this journey as a steadfast partner,” she added.Two years ago, the U.S. recognized the new U.N.-backed Somali government which continues to battle al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab.Other African countries that she has served in: Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe from 2007 to 2010 as well as at the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, Gabon from 2005 to 2007. Additionally, she was the Political and Economic Section Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia from 2002 to 2005 and Economic Section Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1999 to 2002.Dhanani also served as Staff Assistant in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs at the Department of State, as Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.Dhanani received a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.The U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu closed in 1991 when Somalia’s government collapsed as civil war ensued.”As security conditions permit, we look forward to increasing our diplomatic presence in Somalia and eventually reopening the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu,” Psaki said.Dhanani’s nomination requires senate confirmation. Continue Reading