Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. The owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Along the Somali coastline sits the Jazeera Beach Hotel, one of the finest beach resorts in Mogadishu.
It is part of The Village hotel and restaurant chain, owned by Ahmed Jama. Originally from Britain, many in Somalia now refer to him as Ahmed Village because of his thriving businesses. A chef by profession, Ahmed enjoys cooking for his ever-increasing customers.
He recalls the risks he took coming back to invest in a country once regarded as a failed state.
“When I left my restaurant business in London, everyone was surprised. When I opened up a hotel at Jazeera beach everyone was also surprised. But now it’s evident that all who followed my lead and invested back home have changed the narrative. And we look forward to more developments for Somalia in the near future,” said Jama.
With Somalia’s thriving fishing industry, Ahmed’s clientele are assured of a good meal at any of his chain of hotels across the capital.
A major source of employment, Ahmed has hired scores of Somalis to work at his establishments.
“In this restaurant alone, I have 58 employees. At least 20 others work at my other restaurant in Hawa Tako. I have employed more than 100 people in Mogadishu alone. I have opened up a beach restaurant in Hobyo that has more than 20 employees. This is something I hope to expand all across the country if security prevails,” he said.
Ahmed’s restaurants in Mogadishu have been attacked numerous times by extremists. But this has not deterred Ahmed, who instead urges other Somalis in the Diaspora to return home.
“It is human beings who create both conflict and peace. So as to develop Somalia, we shouldn’t be afraid. It’s wise if we come back and invest here instead of elsewhere. Those you offer employment opportunities to will help in creating peace and stability. The instability and challenges will come to an end one day, so it is best we stay and invest here,” said Jama.
In 2013, the Somali government launched the Office for the Diaspora Affairs. The agency has been holding a series of conferences with Somalis across the globe in a bid to increase their involvement with the East African nation.
Ahmed Jama’s case is an example of the brave hearts who have returned to Somalia and are slowly changing a nation that was once mired in anarchy, but is now slowly settling down, and reviving.