In Danger From All Sides – Journalist’s Life In Somalia

More than 50 journalists have lost their lives reporting in Somalia in the last decade the most recent fatality happened on Saturday in a bomb blast. The BBC’s Bella Sheegow reflects on life there as a reporter.

Working in Mogadishu was one of the most difficult things I have done in my whole life. It was like living in constant fear while trying to do your job.

As a journalist, it is your job, to tell the truth, but sometimes that is very difficult as you are in danger from different sides and that makes you feel very unsafe. You think at the back of your mind: “Who’s going to be angry about this? How is this going to affect me?”

And sometimes you ask yourself: “Is this the last thing that I’m going to do?”

For me, that is the kind of experience that I have been through.

There were a couple of times that I felt that my life was in danger because of the stories that I have done. The most recent one was in 2021 when I was working on a story about a female spy who was killed.

Some of the government officials got angry and were not happy with the things that we were saying. That really put my life in danger and I remember at night I used to wake up and think about the woman who died she was like me, she was a working woman and she died because of what she was doing. And that could have happened to me too.

We have the militant group al-Shabab they don’t like us they kill journalists whenever they see them.

And we have the government on the other side they only like you when you say the good things that they do and start hating you when you start telling the truth. Like when you hold them accountable, they don’t like that. And they’re dangerous too.

And we have the community and the people. It’s very tricky because they’ve been through a lot and they don’t trust anyone. So nobody likes you somehow and you are in danger so it’s very difficult.

I recently lost a good friend of mine who was also a great journalist. Mohamed Isse Koonaa had done an amazing job while he was working in Mogadishu and his stories changed a lot of people’s lives.

It was only over the weekend when I received a call from someone telling me that Koonaa had died in a blast.

It was very difficult to hear something like that because we’ve been working together for a long time and I did not just see him as a journalist.

He was someone who changed lives. He was someone who was willing to do anything to do the job that he was doing, to tell the truth and to make sure that the people in Somalia know what’s going on in their own country.

Koonaa was a father, son and amazing colleague and everyone who worked with him loved him, including me. Being very far away from him and hearing about his death like that made me feel very sad and a reminder that journalists in Somalia are in danger and things need to be changed.

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