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Yes, I’m ‘Mr Black’, and Here is My Story

BY JUDY WAGUMA

Mr Mohamed Egal, the deputy Manager of Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority (SCAMA), is fondly referred to as “Mr Black”. “I do not know why they nicknamed me ‘Mr Black’. Maybe it’s because I am black,” he quips. The name has however stuck and everyone calls him Mr Black. Egal goes back memory lane, and with his face lighting up, he says of his home: “This country was beautiful. We had everything. Somalia was the place to be. I am one of those who benefited from the government at the time. My education was paid for; everything to the last cent.

 In 1973, Mr Egal left Somalia for Russia to further his studies, under the then Somali Airforce, as a pilot. He came back to the country in October 1976 as a fighter pilot, still sponsored by the Somali Government. He worked at the airforce for some time. After the collapse of the government in 1991, Egal moved to the US. There, he studied aviation management and administration, at the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. He later worked for the US government in Minnesota. One day, he says, he was helping his children with their homework and on the background was a news item on Somalia. It showed a boy hanging on life, suffering from malnutrition. One of his children looked up and called out to him,

Daddy! Daddy! Your people.” “I stood there, looked at him, looked at the story on TV, and I felt terrible,” Egal recalls. “They did not for once realize that these were also their people; that they were also Somalis,” he adds. “That is when I decided to return home.” Egal’s family today lives in Canada. He observes that the process of adapting to Somalia for children born in America and Europe is difficult, even though he is optimistic that this will change soon as Somalia develops. “When I studied, I used the Somali tax payers’ money. I have to pay back and there is nothing as rewarding as living here and seeing my people. Here, everyone knows me, and it makes me proud.

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