Why we’re on the phone


Ask A SomaliQ: Why are Somalians always on their phone? What are they talking about all day and to whom?

A: Really? You got to be kidding me. You’re going to ask this? Just wondering, are you paying our phone bills? We’re talking about you behind your back. Oh, and it is Somalis, not Somalians.

But seriously, we are a society that loves to socialize due to the hot climate. We’re outdoors day and night.  At night we used to sleep under the stars and the moon because it was too hot to be inside the house. I knew everybody in my town.

In America, everybody locks their doors. So, we’re trying to learn your ways by locking our doors and not sleeping outside and, to substitute our ways, we are using our phones (that we pay our own bills for) to call family and friends and neighbors. We love to socialize and keep in touch with everyone, but now that we’re spread around the world we can’t all talk in person. Until you pass a law to ban phones, you will see me talking on the phone to my nine siblings and 11 half-siblings living in three continents, seven countries, and as many time zones.

Since you want to know who we’re on the phone with all day, here’s a typical day for me.  Most days, I will talk to my sister in Somalia, to check in and see if everything is ok with them.  In the morning, as I’m on my way in to work, I get a call from my mother in London, and she asks me to talk to my brother who won’t listen to her.  I’m late to work, but I take five minutes to listen to her.  Around 1 p.m., I would call my father because it is 9 p.m. for him, and I know he’s just finished his day and came home to sleep.  At 10 p.m., I get a call from my little brother (also in London) who just got off from work and will say good night to me before he goes to bed. It is 3 a.m. for him, but he knows I get off from my second job at 10 p.m. At 10 a.m. Saturday morning, I call my six nieces and nephews I’ve never met in Sweden and chat with them before my shift.  And this is on top of all the normal phone use that any other Minnesotan has.  If this is inconveniencing you, sorry, but I can’t help you. But thanks for the question. 

(And are you sure they are Somalis? See my previous column.)