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MOGADISHU, SOMALIA


photos: Nabil Elderkin


In August, the United Nations announced that the first famine in 20 years was unfolding in Somalia and


throughout the Horn of Africa. I have a unique connection to the region, as one of my best friends and business partners is the Somali-born poet and singer K’naan.


We took a trip to the brink of humanity, where opportunity and tragedy walk a razor’s edge.


The last time a famine was announced it was in the same region.


How is it possible that in 2011 we find ourselves repeating the mistakes of the past? How can we not rally globally and come up with innovative solutions? We can’t completely plan for a tsunami or an earthquake, but we can surely be proactive, as opposed to reactive when it comes to preparing for the conditions of drought and famine that the people in this region have been warning us about for the past three years.


I don’t want to oversimplify the solution. Somalia is a complex country that has had no central government for 20 years. With a civil war raging, the international community found itself unable to engage with the oncoming humanitarian disaster. As the situation began to unfold I went through


every emotion, from hope to anger to wondering why the world didn’t seem to care. What I realized is that, in a world where our attention span is minimal and we see disasters daily, we seem to have become dysfunctional in our ability to help those in need.


So what did we do? We knew we had to do something, however the options presented, from concerts to fundraisers, seemed deficient to say the least. We realized the best thing we could do was to go to Somalia ourselves, to see what was happening and build our plan from there. We took a trip to the brink of humanity, where opportunity and tragedy walk a razor’s edge.


This was my brother K’naan’s first trip back to the city of his birth since he fled with his family in 1991 as the country crumbled.


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