Homebound After 26 Years Away

On July 10th, 2019, I  stepped onto a plane to visit the land of my birth after being away from it for 26 years. 

My final leg of the trip was to travel from Addis Ababa to Mogadishu, and I  could hardly contain myself. This was also the shortest of my trips, so it was going to be over very quickly. I was so nervous, but I was also so excited. I  could hardly stay in my seat. When I saw a glimpse of the outline of the Somali coastline, I became undone. I rambled in English and Somali to my seatmate continuously asking,” Is that Somalia? Are we there already? Is that really Somalia?”

When we touched down, like any airplane, it took us awhile to get out, but when we did, the heat slapped me in the face. But I  didn’t even mind. I was at Aden Adde Airport. I was standing on Somali soil. It was unbelievable to me. I could hardly hide my excitement. My usual permanent smile was even more evident today. 

Finally in Somalia

Everyone who assisted us spoke in Somali. I  had never thought that I would be back in my homeland being assisted by Somali people speaking in Somali. It was surreal. 

I still remember how I felt when I saw so many Somali people in one place. I had never before seen that many Somali people in one place. It was the most surreal experience. Everywhere I heard Somali people speaking in Somali. It felt like I was in a dream. 

I still remember vividly how I felt when I touched down on Aden Adde Airport. Anigoo dan waan kala badbatay. OHMYGOODNESS. “I am really in Somalia. My feet are actually touching Somali soil. Am I dreaming? Am I really in the land of my birth? The land of my father’s and my mother’s birth? The land where my foremothers and forefathers were born and bred in? Oh my goodness! I am in Somalia!”

I was a rambling mess. I was smiling and talking so much- yes even more than I usually did. Everywhere I looked were Somali people. Every word I heard was Somali. I was asked for my passport in Somali. I was asked for my visa money in Somali. Speaking of that, though, because I had an American passport I had to get in the,”Ajnabi/Foreigner,” line – much to my dismay.

When I was getting my bag, the person assisting me was speaking Somali. I was so shocked. What did I expect? That’s it. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. So everything was shocking. I was like a newborn baby experiencing everything for the first time.

Benadir Municipality with the one and only Dr. Hodan Ali

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