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East African students process tensions in East Africa

University student groups speak out about how they feel about the rising stress.
Image by Katrina Bailey
Mowlid Hassan (left) and Abdimalik Shuriye (right) pose at the Somali Student Association spring kickoff event on Jan. 29.

University of Minnesota students reflect on concerns of safety and peace as tensions rise between Somalia and Ethiopia. 

Tensions between the two countries rose after Somaliland, a neighboring territory, signed an agreement with Ethiopia to lease a part of its coastline to the landlocked nation for the next 50 years. East African University students voiced concerns about how the tensions are impacting themselves, their friends and family. 

Somaliland was a former British colony until 1960 when it joined Somalia. It was an unstable union between the two and in 1991, Somaliland broke away with intentions to become an independent, sovereign nation and started a civil war. 

Some University students have family and friends in Somalia affected by these conflicts, making this subject personal. 

Mowlid Hassan, the committee chair of the Somali Student Association, is worried about his family’s safety. His uncle lived in Las Ahanov, Somalia, one of the regions where the conflict started before moving south to Bohol, where his dad lives. 

“It’s affecting me in the sense of thinking about my family’s safety,” Hassan said. “Hopefully things get better.” 

Freda Payne, the co-president of the African Student Association, said her friends are worried about being perceived the wrong way. Payne has friends from both Ethiopia and Somalia and is worried about how the conflict could create tensions here. 

“It’s not affecting them day-to-day but it’s like, if they consider going back to their own countries they’re more worried of how they’re going to be perceived by others,” Payne said. 

For Ethiopia, the agreement is vital to its economic stability because it is a landlocked nation and gives them access to the ocean. In return, Somaliland hopes Ethiopia will recognize them as a sovereign state, not just a separate region in Somalia. 

Abdimalik Shuriye, the board historian of the Somali Student Association at the University, said protests are happening in all three areas because of sovereignty disputes and lack of communication. 

“It would be like if another country was dealing with Minnesota instead of dealing with the United States,” Shuriye said. 

President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said this agreement bypasses their federal government and threatens their nation’s integrity, reported Al Jazeera news

Mohamud said Somalia is prepared to go to war with Ethiopia and has declared the agreement void, reported The Guardian. Ethiopia and Somalia have had ongoing tensions after their conflict in 1977-78 about a disputed region. 

Hassan points out the majority of Somalia’s population is young and feeling the effects of the past generation’s actions. 

“Most of the Somalis on Earth are younger than the age of 30, meaning they didn’t even know the start of the civil war,” Hassan said. “It’s something that affects them that the past generation has done.” 

It is unlikely Somalia will initiate an attack, though the agreement could increase longstanding tensions, according to The Guardian. East African students hope the two nations will focus on peace moving forward. 

“People need to focus on peace,” Shuriye said. “I feel like it’s just gonna hopefully all come out peacefully.”

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  • Jennefer Brooks or Butler
    Feb 9, 2024 at 10:33 pm

    I own the shea butter palaceand Hoover palace in Egypt Africa me and my children I am very hurt about how much have been stolen from Africa mostly everything in America belongs to Africa redseA tribe in Hawaii how I know it is mine I should know like my PA on Lumber Companys to build things my Lending Company Grant Trade Trust Company PepsiCoke my Finance company Jennefer jephar Ford motor credit and finance company Terms and conditions etc the only person anybody hadd for 1300 years weapons the only person for 900 years old foundation 1300+ years graph beige files business machines Turkey of mine marketing I am White Gene pipeing for plumbing made out of my body credit cards made out my body electric my lines poles convertor as well only personally who can own generators sewer as well chemical treatment of generators I own the science lab bank meds postage stamp postage stamp meda meter mail machine PA owner of business envelopes long white big brown pop big brown white business envelopes or Libby Lab Blood Bank mostly all Prescription Medication pain and Antibiotics Benadryl Aniseshia for surgery adults in baby’s wheel chairs needles every day envelopes I own the spear village in Africa where we make prescription medication as well BIO Kenya lower Cario Nimmy Yum etc 22-23 villages in Africa plus Egypt “jephar” Jennefer Brooks White Gene double red blood

  • Jennefer Brooks of Egypt
    Feb 9, 2024 at 10:12 pm

    I would hope they would not for evil hearted America to steal from both of them especially the people over Arkansas hell I live in Africa been born in Africa alot 6differnt familys and buried there twice I own Egypt and the mortuary in the earth 10kt gold barsi place my self and family workers I have a lot of children in Africa WAS in Africa I have 2 million in my grass skirt village in Egypt

  • Ahmed
    Feb 9, 2024 at 6:33 pm

    The Oromo Ethiopian prime minister is a very unstable narrow minded trouble maker of his country and the already volatile region of the Horn of Africa . To cover up his failure of leadership he said he’s gonna get a maritime sea access for Ethiopia either by favor or force . I think him and the ones who are pushing him from behind don’t know somalis , let him go back to history back in 1977 when we almost annihilated Ethiopia luckily the soviets a, cubans and the Warsaw Pact saved their ass . This time it’s gonna be worse. We won’t let anybody yo take an inch of our land, it’s gonna be like opening Pandora’s box . Ethiopia already occupies a big chunk of land illegally that belongs to Somalia and the Somali people given to them by the former British colonialists . So he’ll is waiting for them and the whole of the region will be on flames if try us , please let someone put a leash on this idiot mad dog of Ethiopia . We’re Somalis and over our dead bodies . Gapice

  • Yussuf
    Feb 9, 2024 at 3:55 pm

    It’s on record that Somalia had agreed to give Ethiopia Access to its waters in the Indian ocean. Somaliland knows all too well the hypocrisy of the Somali government. We also understand the hate, the jealousy behind all this noise. We’ve been dealing with this for over 30 Years, it’s nothing new for us. We are peaceful, determined and capable, nothing shall stop us from achieving our goals.

  • Suleiman
    Feb 9, 2024 at 11:26 am

    We somalis as people, have the disadvantage of considering clan in every thought! Why somalia shouldn’t recognise somaliland? They have proved they can manage, it’s going to be one good, beautiful country that is part and can simply go and live in. Hargeisa will not stop being somali but one good somali country. Let us support them for own benefits

  • Atlanta 122
    Feb 9, 2024 at 5:23 am

    Somaliland been independent for many years and they have a right to do whatever they want they just jealous and not happy how somaliland been peaceful and independent and also Somalia president can’t even visit the country he claiming Ethiopia is a neighbor what’s wrong if do business with them somaliland is been recognized 1960

  • Omar
    Feb 9, 2024 at 4:50 am

    Somaliland is a state in somalia, just like texas sagning a deal with russia

  • Ephraim
    Feb 9, 2024 at 3:49 am

    The risk of going to war is unlikely. The Somaliland will become a country though.

  • Hawlkar
    Feb 8, 2024 at 11:35 pm

    wish to first state unequivocally, the Republic of #Somaliland is not seeking to instigate controversy; rather, we find ourselves confronted by it.

    The purpose of this statement and corresponding video is to make clear to the world the dangers presented to Somaliland and the region by the aggressive and virulent ideology of Somali Weyn/Greater Somalia or One Somalia policy.

    This video clip, recorded in Minneapolis, MN, contains similar sentiments previously expressed by a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives, but in a more organic and violent form, complete with the invocation of Jihad and the explicit promise of funding from within the United States. The message is intended for Somalia’s President and anyone who share similar beliefs.

    Ironically, the ideology of One Somalia/Greater Somalia does not stop there. It is also pervasive within the corridors of power in Washington DC.

    According to public information, the Somalia government, through its embassy in Washington, DC, and like-minded Somali American corporations registered in Minnesota, have financially supported this philosophy, hiring a lobbying company in Washington DC to advocate a milder version known as “One Somalia.” Eventually the truth always comes out. The lobbying firm in question is Von Batten-Montague-York ‘@batten_von’.

    Federally mandated quarterly filings available to the public, indicate various financial sources, over hundreds of thousands of dollars from among others, the Embassy of Federal Gov of #Somalia in Washington D.C and an organization registered in Minnesota, under the name “United Somali Alliance” @UnitedSomalis. Those in doubt, or anyone else who wants to fully understand what “United Somalia” means, simply watch this video in its entirety.

    Strangely, within a few minutes of Congresswoman @Ilhan Omar’s speech, the lobbying firm through their twitter account, were quick to distance themselves from her speech.

    We hope, this statement addresses the Greater Somalia ideology peddled by the government of Somalia and its lobbying partners along Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as the ramifications for the entire Horn of Africa if it is implemented. Further denial is no longer a viable or practicable option.

    Lastly, we cannot emphasize enough, The Republic of #Somaliland stands for peace and is opposed to any form of ideology that includes violence and extremism in any form. The people of #Somaliland strive to coexist with all neighbors in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Horn of Africa that is free of past Somalia irredentism and hate.

    Those recruited young Somalis and students in Minnesota and convince then to join terrorist group of Al-Shabaab in Somalia are now trying to brainwash your students in great Minnesota in order to use them in the Somalia irredentism and hate they are creating in here in US.

  • Guusha
    Feb 8, 2024 at 10:29 pm

    Mr Ethiop is country who is Somali Enemy there’s no comparison UAE
    At the same time that district don’t own Saylac…

  • John
    Feb 8, 2024 at 1:08 pm

    But, there is no conflict….
    Somaliland made a number of similar deals with other countries such as UAE, and Somalia didn’t say anything about it. Why now?