It is very difficult to come into terms that one of the East Africa’s main languages is associated with terror when you are in Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Swahili is one of the East Africa’s most useful languages; it is official language in Kenya, Tanzania, inland of Zanzibar and widely used in Uganda, Congo and even Malawi.
Kenyan Somalis who work in Somalia normally use Swahili for communication with fellow non Somali Kenyans while some instances use for phone conversations back home.
On December 2014 my uncle from Kenya but currently working in Mogadishu made a big mistake when he answered a phone call with Swahili.
We were at a popular hotel in Mogadishu where senior Somali government officials were having a meeting.
Plain clothes security personnel approached my uncle and requested for his identifications and when he showed his Kenyan ID the case was serious.
My intervention as Somali citizen did not bear any fruits but he was later released after interrogations.
Another close friend Somali Kenyan of mind also experienced similar problem.
He was driving late in Mogadishu and when stopped by security forces he forgets that he was in Somalia and answered the security personnel in Swahili.
The Somali security forces pointed their guns and ordered him to get out of the car and after interrogation for more than two hours he was released.
For those of you who do not know, Swahili language is very sensitive in Somalia particularly in government installations, main airports and even check points in Mogadishu.
It is never secret that there are quite number of Kenyans in the ranks of Al Shabaab who use their native language as main communication network, this was evident in various Al Shabaab clips posted online by the group.
That is why Somali security forces are suspicious about the use of the language in important areas in the country.
The irony is that in Kenya, Somali language is considered a threat and a potential terror language in some areas.
Despite the contradiction, interestingly Kenya and Somalia share security cooperation against their fight on Al Shabaab militant group.
Next time when you’re visiting Somalia try your best to use familiar languages such as Somali and English or else you will find yourself in trouble like my dear Kenyan Somali sijui uncle.