Somalia doesn’t get a very good press. If it’s not war, it’s pirates. And if it’s not pirates, it’s a weird story about a 112 year-old man marrying a 17-year-old girl:
Ahmed Muhamed Dhore – who says he was born in 1897, the year that Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee – already has 13 children by five wives, but said he would like more with his newest, Safiya Abdulle…
“I didn’t force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love, and then we agreed to marry,” the groom said. The bride’s family said she was “happy with her new husband”. Somali adolescent girls are often married off to older men.
This has been a particularly bad week for Somalia’s international reputation. The capture of two Britons, Paul and Rachel Chandler, by pirates in the Indian Ocean has sparked off yet another round of stories featuring wild quotes from alleged pirates.
The Times quoted a pirate called ‘Hassan’:
“We warn them any attack on us, this is a good advice for them, otherwise they will burn their two people’s bones.”
Sky News had a pirate called Mohamed Hussein:
“We are telling Britain that any bullet of our friends on the yacht will be big cries for the families of the two old people we hold.”
Our view of Somalia is based upon what we know about a country. If all we read about is comically bloodthirsty pirates and the world’s creepiest marriage will we care about the fate of Somalia’s people?
Somalia needs peace, regular rains and law and order. But first it needs rebranding. This guy could help: