It was beautiful morning in Mogadishu, very different from other days because it was Eid al-Fitr. For your information Eid al-Fitr is an important religious holiday in Islamic religion and it is considered to be one of the most joyous day in Islamic calendar. The word Eid al-Fitr which means (festive of breaking the fast) is the day that marks the end of the holy month Ramadan. It is celebrated across the Muslim world, each country has unique way of celebrating this day characterized by its culture and traditions.
On the day of Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning in outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer. This consists of a sermon followed by a short congregational prayer.
In Somalia, after the Eid prayer, we usually scatter to visit various family and friends, give gifts to our brothers and sisters, we make phone calls to distant relatives and beloved ones to give them well-wishes for the holiday. These activities traditionally continue for three days in our country. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday.
On July 6th 2016 was the day of Eid, I was on my way to the Mosque to perform the prayers, before I reach there, I saw young boy which I assumed was between the age of 6 and 7 hiding behind the wall of a house located near the mosque in our village. To my surprise the boy was holding plastic black gun that looked real AK47 with full of something like gunpowder and it sounded like real automatic ammunition. If someone holding that gun would have stopped me on the street I would definitely freeze myself and put my hands on my head. That is how scary it was to me.
The boy and I had a little heated discussion noted down below:-
“Eaid mubaarak, what is your name?” I said to him. He did not reply to me. I came closer to him and I said “Eid Mubarak young boy, aren’t you going to pray today?”
“I am in a fight” he said with his serious face “and my name is Said” he added.
“Fight against who and fight for what?” I asked.
“You see that other kid behind the tree over there? That is the guy I am fighting with” he said
I looked the other kid who was also hiding himself behind azadirachta tree locally known as (Geed Hindi), that kid who looked like a man on mission and was also holding another similar gun to that of Said.
“And would you mind if you tell me why are you fighting with that kid” I asked.
“it is Eid, that is what we do, we fight, It is our way of celebration” he replied.
“Fighting on a day of Eid is not good, let’s go to the mosque and pray” I told him.
“You know how many days I have been asking my parents to buy this gun for me? Two weeks before this day, two weeks.” He said furiously.
“Why would you ask your parents to buy a gun for you? You could have asked them to buy you other better gifts?” I asked him.
“That kid and all other kids in the village told me their parents will buy them toy guns on the Eid day, they also told me they will fight with me.” He replied.
“Who taught you how to use this?” I asked
“My elder brother showed me how to use it” he replied “he is real fighter” he added.
“Come on let’s go to the mosque” I said
“Wait, I just killed two of them, let me kill the third one, I will join the prayers later” he said
By this time, I was shocked wondering who planted this idea on the little boy’s mind. What I understood from our conversation was that his parents encouraged him to fight since they bought him a toy gun as a gift. There are other million ways of making children look happy than buying them a gun. I asked myself, if he is fighting like this at this age what he will be at the age of 25? Or 29? Since civil war has erupted in our country, our young generation were misused, misguided and used as murders to take out lives of other fellow bothers and rape their sisters. They were never born to be killers, that is for sure one thing I know. They were all taught how to hold the gun, how to pull the trigger and how to take someone’s life without any regrets.
After the prayers, I got out of the mosque and fortunately I met Said’s father. A 38 years old butcher in the local market. “Why didn't you take your boy to visit other family members, spend good time with them or at least take him to Peace garden or to the beach instead of buying him a toy gun” I asked.
“He will not be strong in the future If I do that for him, I want him to be strong and fight like real hero” he replied while laughing at me.
“So you are literally teaching him how to kill?”
“That is no what I mean but you know kid have to learn how to be a man and also have to learn basic skills to fight” he added.
At this point, I realized that Somali parents are playing very negative role in raising their children and I am loudly saying to them this is completely wrong. It is you (Somali parents) who decide the kind of life you want for your child to have in the future, it depends how you raise them, how you teach them, how you guide them and how you influence them. If you buy a plastic gun on a day of Eid (a day of happiness and joyousness) don’t be surprised if you see them becoming a serial killers or get radicalized in the future. If you take them to visit other family members and friends, show them how to love and respect others, teach them how to be kind and give Sadaqah (charity) to the poor people, inspire them by showing how to share happiness with others, they will follow the right path and will be the ones you wanted them to be in the future.
Last but not the least, this also goes to the businessmen who make money out of this horrible plastic guns which are completely inappropriate for our kids gvein the current context of this country. please don’t bring such toy guns to our country and don't let our children be gunners at younger age. You can bring other toys and stuff that can develop them mentally and help them grow better.Teach them how to be kind, not how to kill