From a far, she looks like a strong woman. But Amina Mohammed is traumatised. She is disturbed and she goes numb time to time.
She has gone through what no mother should ever endure. Hell on earth. If only she had lost her child to an ordinary death, she would have learnt how to cope with the loss. To her, it was like losing a child twice.
Amina’s eyes cloud with tears as memories of her 14-year-old son flood back. Abdalla Salim, her second born, left for Somalia in 2011.
She recalls that Sunday in January 2011 vividly. Schools were opening the following day and her son was supposed to join class 8. Then he just vanished.
“In the evening, he did not come back, so I started looking for him in the Majengo area of Nairobi where we live. He was nowhere. I tried again the next day and the whole week with no luck. I reported to various police stations and called everyone I know, but my efforts bore no fruits,” she mourns. Her patience ran out. She was an emotional wreck as her world crumbled. That is when her eldest son, Ali Salim, 17, took over the search.
“Ali found out that his brother was taken to Somalia by people well known in the area. It was shocking news to us and my son vowed to find the people responsible.’’
Talking in pauses, Amina says her son was among others from Majengo who had been lured and entrapped to be used as errand boys in Somalia, where the Al Shaaab is engaged in all types of conventional and unconventional warfare, including suicide bombing.
“Mum tafuta dollar mia mbili ukuje unitoe huku’’ (Mum, please look for $200 (Sh20,000) and come and fetch me from this place) that was the plea from her son whenever he called.
In desperation, she decided to go to Somalia. She went to Eastleigh to get an air ticket to Mogadishu but she could not raise Sh9,000 required. Dejected, she went back home and got a call from a number his son frequently called on.
A stranger told her on phone,”Mum we are going to avenge. They can not just take your son and kill him”.
“I cried for my baby. He was so young and had a bright future. I lost him,” she says. In 2012, her first born son Ali disappeared. He just vanished. Amina says he was taken by unknown people. “He was taken by some radicalised people. We searched for three days, on the third day when I went to report to Westland’s police station, I instinctively knew my son was not alive. My bowels loosened,” she recalls. His body was later found her in a mortuary. It had a close range gunshot wound.
“My son was affected by his brother’s death and he had become religious. As a mother, I thought it was good solace for him, I didn’t know the result would lead to his death,’’ she says.
Amina says she knows the people in Majengo who took his son to Somalia and killed him. Her worry now is her remaining three children who were traumatised by the deaths of their elder brothers. Engage Jamii Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, has stepped in to ensure such women are counselled and empowered.
They also train youths and give them grants to start businesses.
Fatuma Juma, the organisation’s director, says there are about 32 mothers who have lost to their sons to the Al Shabaab terror group.
Sources: The Stander Media