Joy, mishaps and treasure collection (By Abdirahman Adan Mohamoud)

After weeks in Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Borama, here am on board of my return flight. This was rather a unique trip, I might say, considering the feelings attached to it: lots of joy and some tears. Joy in the sense that it helped me reconnect with colleagues, counterparts, family members and friends, some of whom, I haven’t seen close to two decades, hence warranting joy and rejoicing. Tears, of course, refer to loss of a friend and lately, a colleague, while on mission.

Heightened Alert
The first leg of the trip took me to Mogadishu, where my arrival, coincidentally, happened at a time with heightened security alert. Intensified fighting with AS was reported in a number of regions, mainly in Hiiraan and Galgudud. Local militias, known as Macawisley, fed up with shock and awe; and getting moral and material support from the army waged war against strongholds of AS. Understandably, security situation is tightened in many of Mogadishu’s landmarks including the place of my stay. This unfortunately, limited my movement and interactions with some of my colleagues and friends, whose discussion I could hardly wait for. After an extended period of virtual engagement, face-to-face discussion meant a lot. Working together, while output delivery is flavoured with collegial laughter is what I missed and longed for.

Magnificent Landmarks
However, I managed to visit the newest and probably, the most beautiful mosque in Mogadishu, if not in the entire region, to attend Friday sermon. Recently built by a businessman, the giant Ali Jimale Mosque with state-of-the-art outlook, designed, perhaps, with Ottoman Empire-like architectural design, will clearly attract many devoted worshippers and, if situation allows visitors alike. Praying there, whilst reminiscing so fondly the beauty and blessings of Prophet Mohamed’s (PBUH) mosque in Madina was refreshing, heart-enriching and so profound.

Airport mess up
On my way to Hargeisa, the airline I used was marred with unscrupulous behaviour and acts from airline ground staff. First, the long queues and lines in the domestic terminal was chaotic. We had no option but to spend hours in security screening. After finally presenting my ticket to airline staff at the designated counter, the lady in the desk naively dismissed my ticket as mistaken and belonging to another airline. I had to protest, of course politely, and request her to look into it more carefully since the one she is referring to is already used. Still hard to understand, she sought clarification from her colleague sitting beside her, who looked not only senior to her but also more experienced. They come back with equally another blunder- that reference number is missing and therefore, I don’t have a valid ticket. Whatever explanation I provided in that tensed moment, within a chaotic atmosphere, fell on deaf ears. Seeking attentive ears to listen to my case, I escalated my issue with seemingly a senior ground staff member. Surprisingly, he repeated similar sentiments and when I kept explaining how my ticket is combined with different legs, he walked away, clearly in disagreement. Trying to get hold of him, I asked what other options he could think of. Buy a new ticket, he responded dismissively.
Considering that it is a weekend, offices are closed, and it is hard to reach travel agency, also mindful the upcoming burial, I had to buy a new ticket. Again, I didn’t carry sufficient money and ATM machines were far, but my colleague Mohiaidin, who is always so supportive and helpful, immediately wired the remaining balance electronically.

Upon arriving in Hargeisa, the following morning, I wrote to the ticket issuing authority, informing the mess up and urging them not to reimburse the airline on that leg, as I was forced to buy a new ticket. Interestingly, when issuing office reached out to the said airline, they reported a no-show case! I put this simplistic explanation to an end after sharing the new ticket, while they daringly issued two tickets for the same passenger, with two different costs.

Mind-blowing discussions
Putting this aside, I am delighted to have met with; and engaged in reassuring chats with old and new friends, admirers and acquaintances. Extremely happy to move around in Hargeisa, mostly in early evenings, as an invited guest; and taken to various food courts. Our discussion often centred around self-discipline, personal and career development, current state of affairs, humanitarian-development nexus, anchoring good governance on wealth creation, quality education, genuine learning, acquiring marketable and specific skills and continuing life-long learning appetite.

PCR Test still a requirement
On my way back, I struggled to understand the rationale behind having a negative PCR test at Hargeisa airport, while already leaving. It is ironic to see that PCR test is still a requirement for outgoing travellers; and strangely enough, not for incoming ones, who clearly could pose greater health risk. Worth to note that many of the travellers are vaccinated, some even triple-jabbed including the booster. So Am I. This doesn’t make sense and should stop immediately.

National Treasure
While there, I managed to collect my university-era belongings. Notebooks on various undergraduate courses along with other learning materials constitute reclaimed huge intellectual treasure. Everything there – handwritings, explanation of concepts and theories as well as essays -put me back to an old learning roller coaster. Going through these notebooks lately only reinforces how lots of info could easily fade away as old memories are replaced by new experiences. Revisiting such notes, I hope, will help me deep dive topics in the subject matter and beyond.

Anyway, sitting here at the airport, in a middle of a four-hour-long layover on my way back, thrilled to be associated with such brilliant and caring people in different locations in one way or another.

Finally, I would like to register my appreciation to all those who made my short stay there so lovely and memorable!

Abdirahman Adan Mohamoud