It was twenty nine years ago this year that Ethiopian war planes terrorized my beloved birthplace. Borama was a beautiful and peaceful city; home to, perhaps, a hundred thousand people and it seemed everyone knew everyone else. It was a place we could all call home and families could raise their children without any fear or worry.
On the fateful morning of January 30, 1984; a school day, everything changed. As they usually did every morning, many children woke up, brushed their teeth, ate their breakfast and wore their school uniforms. Education was and still is very important to that region of Somalia as many Borama residents were literate and made sure their children attended school as well. What many parents didn’t know is that it would be the last day they would ever see their children alive.
It was a warm, lovely morning with clear skies. People in Borama went about their business while enjoying the beautiful day. What would happen next was almost unthinkable. Shortly before eleven in the morning, while teachers taught and children learned, all of a sudden the terrifying sounds of war plane engines broke the daily routine. Residents of Borama were terrorized and began to run for cover. School children panicked and started crying for their mothers. The teachers tried to calm us down by telling us everything would be ok. They told the children to find shelter under their desks or behind the walls. Unfortunately everything was not going to be ok.
Somalia’s war with Ethiopia had ended years earlier and was almost becoming a thing of the past but the sounds of these engines reminded us of the terror of that war. Ethiopian war planes bombarded the city that day specially targeting schools and residences. They dropped huge bombs on heavily populated areas including four elementary schools that were in session. My school, Xaawo Taako elementary, was the first to get hit. There was chaos everywhere. Many children, some as young as six, cried out of fear while those injured cried out of pain. The sound of screams was almost as loud as the sound of the war plane engines. Time stood still for a few minutes while many children took their last breaths.
In total, 37 children lost their lives that day including my best friend and neighbor. Their lives were cut short. We all miss them very much and on this unforgettable, day I am certain that many mothers are still grieving for the loss of their loved ones. The people of Borama suffered a great deal on that fateful day and the pain we have endured has left lasting scars on our hearts. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
As a parent today, and on behalf of my family, my friends and the residents of Borama, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to all the parents who lost their children that day and specifically to the family of my childhood friend.
May Allah grant all of them his Jannah.
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