A Tree Grows in Somalia

At the end of last year Sid Ali Mohamed Abdi set out from his native Somalia to represent his country in Turin at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012. A long time friend of Slow Food, his work has always been fundamental and carried forth the values of our organization. He was President of the important humanitarian association, Ayuub Orphans, an association that created an entire village for children orphaned by the war, and in 2010 took up the challenge to coordinate the Thousand Gardens in Africa project in Merka, an area where the Shabaab cell of al-Qaeda is very present. He came to Turin in 2010, the only representative from his country.

The two trips were filled with complications. Nobody wanted to give him a visa. In 2012 he set out from Somalia, traveled through Kenya and via Uganda until he was finally was able to leave for Italy. His trip lasted one month. But for him, the joy of arriving at Terra Madre and the Slow Food Congress nullified the fatigue of the month behind.

“In these past 20 years, Somalia has gone through one of the world’s worst crises: long years
of anarchy, civil and tribal wars, banditry and natural disasters have devastated the country. Now we have to reconstruct a destroyed economy,” he said during his speech at the Congress. “And I think that starting from agriculture is not only necessary, but fundamental.”

“The Lower Shabelle region, for example, could alone provide corn, legumes and oil to the whole country. Somalis must start to think about food gardens and their importance for diet and health. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has already started to think about them with its wonderful project. With the support of Slow Food, 15 food gardens have been started in Somalia in the same number of villages. Eight are family gardens and seven are community gardens. A miniscule number compared to how many we need to create, but in Somalia, practical models work much better than theories and lessons. I’m certain that in the coming years the gardens will multiply.”

He died yesterday, 23 May, at 67. We will commit to continuing on his work, together with his young friend Mohamed Abdikadir Hassan, known as Mudane, who accompanied him to Turin last year.

Goodbye Sid Ali, we will make sure that the seeds you planted will flourish.

  • Did you learn something new from this page?
  • yesno