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Resources for ages 9-11 in Art

Teaching Tools, 23 April 2007

"I am the first born"

in Sybella Wilkes, One day we had to run!, (London, Evans Brothers, 1994)

"We were among the first Somali refugees to come to Kenya...

One day, some men came to my house. There were not soldiers, they were dressed like you and me. They asked the last-born child who was only four years old, 'Is father in?' When my father heard it was them, he took me into another room and told me, 'These men have come looking for Somali National Movement people. They think I am one of them. This will be the last time I see you. Now you are mother and the father.'

He gave me some papers which he said I should give to my mother so that she could get money from the people in town. Then my father met those men. My father told them, 'I will come with you. I don't want any fighting in front of my children.'

I asked the men, 'Are you taking him for good?' They told me, 'No, no, we are just going to a meeting.' I was the last person in my family to see my father.

The fighting was horrible. The government was looking for people belonging to the rebel group, the Somali National Movement; they were killing people, raping girls. Nobody cared because everybody was trying to save their own lives. We could not trust anybody as they were all scared of us because of father. Three days after they took father, Mama decided that we should leave Hargeisa and go to Kenya. I am the first-born, so I am responsible. We are nine children, three from my aunt who died. My Mama cannot live without me.

The first day of walking was normal for us, except for the sun made our legs feel swollen and awful. By the second day we were walking only at night because during the day the enemy was fighting and there were roadblocks on the road. It was the first time we had ever walked at night. We heard lions roaring, and we saw many snakes and scorpions. We didn't have any problems with the animals though, it was the people we were scared of. Some boys from Hargeisa walked with us. They had money and helped us carry the little children. After three days, they bought two donkeys and the little children sat on the donkeys. Myself, I had to walk because I am the first-born. I used to put my feet in water when we reached a village at the end of the day. I would just fall down."

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