The world has always known Somalia as a land of starvation and violence. Of radicals and revolutionaries, of the sword and the gun, of hot suns and piracy - the horn of Africa reaching out to other lands but never breaking away from the continent. It was and still is a country riddled with both self-imposed isolation and external exclusion – and this is perhaps what we took with us when we were forced to flee a place many never intended on leaving. Little did many realise that within their lifetimes the violence they narrowly escaped would follow them into the very places they sought refuge, terrorising them and their children.
Stories of knife crime have crept back into the media, dominating headlines over the past year, with images of deceased teenagers and distraught parents flashing across screens in a seemingly ceaseless cycle of violence. This is not just media hysterics; offences involving a knife rose by 12% last year and the homicide rate in England and Wales is at its highest for a decade. Whilst this is all true, the media still manages to peddle an unhelpful myth that this is a race issue, as opposed to a class one, and the Somali community is not exempt from half baked analysis. Whilst Somali’s make up only 0.14% of the British population, we are 8% of the stabbing victims; unemployment is rampant, educational attainment is low and our housing is often poor and overcrowded. It is no surprise that we are disproportionately affected by this. The neglect that led to crises in places like Glasgow is the same neglect that is simmering to a boil in areas across London and the Midlands in Somali communities.