Peace advocate promotes tolerance in Somalia’s South West state
Idris Ahmed Yaqub is not afraid to advocate for peace in Somalia, a country that is still reeling from the effects of civil war.
The 31-year-old native of Mogadishu vividly recalls the turbulent times of his boyhood and adolescence.
"There used to be sustained gunfire, and fighting went on for many months. Education was difficult to acquire as schools were on and off, depending on the magnitude of the fighting,” Idris recalls. “It was a harrowing experience, especially for a child growing up”.
Despite the instability, Idris never gave up the hope of getting an education. His story reads like an action film, but his experience of dodging bullets and grenades on his way to school was very real.
“I saw education as a means to an end, an investment in the future and also an escape route from the traumatizing experiences encountered during the war," Idris says.
In 2014, Idris left the Somali capital and moved to Baidoa, where he landed a job as a financial advisor to the Speaker of the South West state regional assembly.
Apart from his advisory role in the regional assembly, Idris is also a committed peace advocate. He organizes regular meetings with various community groups to discuss the importance of peace and reconciliation in the development of South West state.
"Working with the South West state assembly has given me an opportunity to mobilize interest groups to promote peace at a community level. I am passionate about it because I have experienced the devastating effects of war,” Idris notes.
Thanks to peacebuilding initiatives, some communities in South West state have managed to resolve conflicts amicably under the guidance of local elders.
“Peace is fundamental to our existence. It is the responsibility of every Somali to pass on the baton of peace, to ensure Somalia fully recovers from the effects of war,” Idris states.
In recognition of Idris’s work on behalf of peacebuilding, he was nominated to sit on a selection panel that assesses applicants interested in serving as members of the National Independent Human Rights Commission.
He is confident that, once established, the Commission will contribute substantially to peacebuilding efforts throughout the country. Idris appeals to his fellow Somalis to maintain their hopes for a better future.
"Challenges are many, but the passion to see a peaceful Somalia keeps me going. It doesn't take much resources to encourage your neighbour to spread peace and unity,” he concludes.