In the last few weeks we have seen a rise in social media activism within the Somali community. Many important discourses have been explored and one such example is the #DearAbaayo discussion that went viral on twitter a couple of weeks ago. An astounding display of solidarity and love from one Somali woman to another, we were thrilled to see such amazing responses to topics that are not normally discussed in our community. To our pleasure, we got the chance to speak to our lovely friend and fellow Araweelo, Riya Jama, who indulged us with more insight as to why she started this discussion.
“The hashtag was birthed from a series of questions I found myself asking one painful night: "Where are spaces for women from my country? Where do we go to heal? Where do we go to be safe?" Thoughts of where do my fellow Araweelo's go when they need solidarity? What spaces do we dwell in and occupy? These are fundamental issues that plague us. For a long while I had been immune to this disconnect but once I found the strength to start healing, it was imperative to me to see representations of struggles that I knew I wasn't alone in suffering with.
#DearAbaayo was crafted with the ink of love and wielded with the pen of sisterhood that was desperately needed. It stemmed from the desire of needing women who looked like me to be able to have love notes written for us, to celebrate us, to honour us. Instead of being toxic towards each other, we could with unity heal each other by reminding Somali women that their voices matter. That they are valued members of a community that continuously seeks to erase their narratives. The only intent of this discussion is to remind us how beautiful it is when we stand together and support one another with love."
In case you missed the discussion, here are a few tweets and thoughts from some of the girls who participated in the hashtag.
@lunarnomad: “I got involved in #DearAbaayo because as a Somali woman, I've heard the phrase "Gabar baa Tahay" one too many times. When I'm limited to do something because of my gender, it inspires me to prove them wrong. I am a diaspora girl, and my gender is not an obstacle, but a force to be reckoned with."
Hoda Awale - @hodaawale: "I tweeted this because survivors in our community are shamed for what happened to them and are silenced. I wanted girls with that internalized hate to know it's not their fault, ever."
Xalimo - @heauxlima: “I always see Somali girls bringing each other down because we are taught to be pitted against each other and to fight for attention. I tweeted that because I wanted to tell Somali girls that the is nothing better than keeping your own sisters close.”
This year has so far been filled with nothing but Somali women initiating discussions and changes in our community that have been long overdue and we love seeing the solidarity from our fellow Somalis. 2015 seems to be the year of the Araweelo’s and we can’t wait to see what else our sisters will achieve in the future!