Opinion

Painful Reflections…….What does life mean to you?

From L to R Snoop (Arie Musse Jama) and Amik ( Najib Ali Omar )

From L to R Snoop (Arie Musse Jama) and Amik ( Najib Ali Omar )

In recent years, the Somali Community has been overcome by a wave of violence that has resulted in the loss of many young lives. The reasons for this violence are complex, but for the friends of the departed the pain is still deep. This Wednesday the City pages published an article that brought up memories of two brothers, Snoop and NoorK, and their friend Amik who were well known and loved in Minnesota’s East African community. Peter who is popularly know as Dj Xpect, was a very close friend to the three, posted this note on his facebook page yesterday.

Abass, Faisal, Helen, Paul ( Hustla), Sam the Designer, and the late Noork far right during the snowbeque @ the (Peter's) crib a couple of yrs back

From Left: Abass, Faisal, Helen, Paul ( Hustla), Sam the Designer, and the late Noork far right during the snowbeque @ Peter's crib.

Today I honestly intended to throw down part 2 of my crazy life series and left work in an excited mood…laughing to myself as I thought of the crazy stories I would share with y’all….. as a matter of fact, if you check my status messages, you will notice that at around 4:30pm or so I updated warning y’all in advance that this evening I would be dropping another of the crazy notes. I got off work and headed to the bus stop to catch the regular #3 bus and while waiting, I decided to grab a copy of a popular weekly published magazine we have in Minneapolis called the ‘City Pages’. I intended to assume my regular back right position in the bus n catch up on any interesting stuff as I rode the bus home but the headline made my heart skip a beat. It read in bold ‘THE SOMALI MURDERS- They came to Minnesota to escape civil war, so why are they killing each other in the streets?. The skipped heartbeat was immediately followed by a painful stab because I knew that there was a whole bunch of stuff within the article I would read……which I really did not want to read because the wounds are still sooooo deep however I already had the magazine in my hand and could not get myself to throw it away and read through it. It is an article trying to question the spike in Somali on Somali murders in the Twin Cities and throws out quite some detail however the author goes the extra step of publishing some ‘non proven’ claims….and even though he states that some claims have no proof, just the fact that he is putting it all out in the media will do nothing but cost more lives since none of these incidents are over a year old.

NEWSPAPER LINKS ARE POSTED AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

Without much further yapping, I will get straight to the point. On Dec 1st last yr we received a phone call letting us know that two very close pals of ours had been shot dead and their bodies were laying out in the snow. There are many conspiracy theories and claims e.t.c. as to what happenned and the city pages article has its own claim but let me tell you about these two brothers. Their names were Snoop (Arie Musse Jama) and Amik ( Najib Ali Omar ). These two brothers were Kenyans from the Somali tribe……….yes mark my words…..Kenyans……from the Somali tribe, both born and raised in Eastleigh, Nairobi. Snoop went to Pumwani boys High…………while Amik went to Jamhuri Boys High School and was classmate to popular artist Jua Cali from Calif Records. They were unseperable and Snoop…having been in the US longer was a bit more Americanized and yes he was not the holiest of angels in his past, but was a brother trying to change his life around….as a matter of fact I remember the first time he and a few friends came through my place almost 5yrs ago and he dropped a loaded weapon on the kitchen floor and we all took off in different directions before I kicked him out. He later dropped the old habits, got a job, and left the rowdy crowd behind and started hanging out more with Amik…………Amik was a typical Nairobi boy, a typical chali wa mtaa from Easich who like many Kenyan youth was into the rave , chilling, having a few drinks , and of course veve if u know what I mean. He steered snoop away from a different lifestyle and brought him clean. They never missed any of our bashes and as a matter of fact the last time I saw them alive..which was 1 week before their demise, they were sitting together in a car outside the Blue Nile Restaurant where many Kenyan parties are hosted and Snoop introduced me to his kid brother. We all then dived deep into the usuall chatter about back home and Amik and I always heckled each other about minor beefs our high schools had ( Jamu , Dago, e.t.c.). Before I left them in the car, Snoop grabbed me and told my ‘ I love you bro’ and so did Amik. I pushed them off and cursed them for being drunk and threw a minor ‘gay’ insult at them before heading back into the club. If only I knew it would be the last time I ever saw them…….I would have told them how special as brothers they were to me. These were some of the most humble and respectful individuals I ever met in my life..whom I even introduced to my family, and my mum, and they were robbed of their lives…just like that. On the fateful night, Snoop and Amik had some sort of altercation with two different individuals of Somali Origin, and Amik being the standup boy from Jamu engaged in a fistfight with another individual and ended up being on the upper hand. I hear later on they were wooed to some apartment complex in south Minneapolis and Amik was shot pointblank in the head. Snoop,on seeing this, took off running away but the culprits……who were terrified of the thought of Snoop being loose after seeing what just happenned ran after him and gunned him down in an alleyway behind the apartments……………and a few hours later, we got the phone call that our boys were lying dead somewhere in south minneapolis…out on the road in the snow…unbelievable.

That same day word spread around Minneapolis like fire about the killings and there was definitely fear because if you knew NoorK ( Mohammed Jama), who was Snoop’s elder brother, you would know that he was the most influential youth to the Somali Community in the Twin Cities hands down. Like Snoop, he had a rough past but had even made more progress than any of the rest in rehabilitating and was a mentor at the Brian Coyle Center……..which is behind Kilimanjaro Caf’e where we do many of our parties. Once word of Snoop and Amik’s death went round, Noork immediately came to my place…..he needed somewhere to gather his mind and try to figure out wtf just happenned. His phone was blowing up like crazy and trust me, it was either of two calls 1. Family members and friends calling him trying to get hold of him so they could tell him to relax and not do anything crazy……and 2. His young soldiers, calling asking for blessings to do things I will not even mention in this blog…go figure. I took his phone away and turned it off and we tried to ignore everything, listened to some tunes from back home, talked storied of Nairobi, and even went out to have a few drinks and relax. Everyone was caught up in emotion and never knew what to do but it was obvious that the vybe in the air reeked of revenge soooooo heavily it was unbelievable. We made it through the night and Noork spent over at my place and early next morning we went to his mother’s place since they really needed him to be there.

There was alot of mourning as relatives and friends streamed in waiting for the bodies to be released by the hennepin County Medical Examiner for burial according to Islam laws. We were later informed that the bodies would have to be released the next day so we went to Amik’s place to console his family and most disturbing was talking to his 3 yr old son who was not even depressed at all. He was just telling everyone ‘ Daddy was shot dead today morning’ with no remorse or emotion since he did not even know what it meant. On Monday mid morning the bodies were released and we went to the Islamic cemetery in Burnsville and buried our brothers. The last time I shovelled dirt down someone’s grave was in 1994 when my grandfather passed so this was just shocking…..especially because it was such close pals whom I was with just a week earlier.

Without any speculations or going into detail all I can say is that the next few months after this double shoioting were littered of multiple shootings , many fatal all in retaliation to and fro between different parties some of whom I have no idea about……..and from what I know, what has made everything even more personal is the fact that the killers and victims were good friends……so out of some blind rage, A let to B, and C and this just started a whole bunch of shit that is going on until today as I type this. In the months after Snoop was killed, Noork became a changed man, he was no longer my homeboy Noork I knew for several years, the cool jamaa who always talked about his high school ( Jamhuri Boys ) and carried a Kenyan flag 24/7 in his rear pocket. He became distant and kept talking about death. On many occassions he kept telling us that he is just ready to die and I kept trying to remind him….my brother that he had a wife and kids. Somewhere in between the to and fro shootings, a young kid was killed around Cedar avenue and many people started speculating that Noork called the shots. That was the beginning of the end. Being one of my closest boys, I clearly declare that Noork had nothing to do with the killing of the young teen.. he just heard about it like everyone else. See the issue here is that Snoop and Amik had tons of friends……and you never know just who would have done what when or where just for their own satisfaction but the unfortunate thing is that just because of the fear Minneapolis as a whole had for Noork, everyone speculated that he was the head of everything going on and it was not true. He lived a very open life. You would find him at the Somali Mall, then at Brian Coyle where he was a mentor….then at Kilimanjaro Caf’e having a cold one. It was a daily routine, nothing to hide, his life was very much in the open. If you wanted to find him he was at either of those places or at one of our parties, or at my place. He was just living day by day.

Now this is the catch, after all the speculations started flying around, threats come following and Noork unfortunately had no choice but to call on the people he had left behind to cover him 24/7. Despite him being a close pal of mine, I have no clue who these peeps were and neither did I like them just due to their rowdiness , carrying pieces 24/7 and just acting wild.. It got soo bad to the point where right before my brother’s death, I was even scared to stand outside anywhere with him smoking a cigarette or in public. I was straight up scared. There was sooo much tension in the Twin Cities and everything was unusually quiet……….too quiet for comfort……very uneasy.

On Sunday June 22nd, I was taking a nap in my truck which was parked on the Street a block up from the Lounge Nightclub where we do reggae every Sunday. I was not really dead asleep but kinda asleep. At some point there was a noisy crowd walking towards the Lounge and I raised my head and saw Noork and a few peeps walking down towards the Lounge..dressed all sharp in white e.t.c..I contemplated saying wsup but decided not to because I figured we would talk later and I wanted to catch a nap , then go back into the club for an hr before heading home so I could wake up fresh for work the next day. The Sunday was the beginning of some Somali tournament week thing or so going on. Anyways, I did not speak to them that night since I figured we would link up later during the week. I had heard that on Tuesday there was to be some big bash @ Visage Nightclub so on Monday I called him like 1000 times for more info but he wasnt answering his phone so I just let it be. On Wednesday morning, as soon as I got to work @ 8am I received a phone call saying Noork had been shot dead in Brooklyn park and his body was still lying in the driveway by the hotel lobby. I could not believe what I was hearing. I made like 1001 calls but no oneknew what had happenned. I quickly took off from work, gathered up a few of the boys and met at my place while we tried to figure out what the hell was going on. I did not want to drive to brooklyn park without poof but by the time I got back home, the news was on every major TV and News outlet but no name was being released……until they eventually confirmed that our boy Noork had indeed been shot dead.

The disturbing thing about the murder is that the police said they had no leads but he was shot dead right in the driveway of a hotel lobby which had cameras……and word on the street is that the shooters boldly walked up to where he was smoking, asked everyone to step aside for their own good, then shot him pointblank and took off…there were hundreds of witnesses and until today no one has spoken. Even some of our close friends who were with him on the scene as he was shot have refused to speak to even us his other friends and let us know what exactly happenned.

That day really sucked…..going back to Noork’s mum’s place…….a place we were last at 6 months before……to console her after one of her sons had been shot dead………..and there we were barely half a year later consoling her for the second son………how painful. We went and buried him, just like we had done snoop and amik earlier………..and just like that, within 6 months 3 close pals were gone, due to senseless shootings that all began over a small argument between friends………and as I type this,the killings and retaliations continue in the city of Minneapolis…….Noork Left 2 kids and a pregnant wife behind….

I personally feel very depressed and pissed off whenever I remember my 3 brothers…..because as you know, life is an experience and I never knew tragedy could hit soo close. The general sentiment among many people in Minneapolis is ,’ let the Somalis kill themselves’ and all kinds of degrading terms I cannot even write here, but you need to remember, like you and I………..they are first and foremost human beings, secondly they are our neighbours here, thirdly they have come from sooooo far and we all know it……and being a Kenyan, most of the Somalis here came through Kenya so they are like one of us …to me. Snoop, Amik, and NoorK were Kenyan nationals and citizens…with Kenyan Id’s and passports, born and raised in Kenya.

My condolences go out to the families of the other youth killed and there is no denying that there is a big big problem within the Somali community in Minnesota that needs to be addressed, and the solution is not sitting far back and tearing them up for their mistakes, but trying to make a difference…….yes they are a close knit community who keep everything within but there aremany educated youth who are even here on facebook who are willing to work with you,and you, and you to help create self awareness and promote love and respect within the community……you doubt me, and you might be the next one headed to the cemetery to bury a close friend. I have buried 3 within the last year, and I do not intend to bury another…

And just as a point of interest, Noork’s hearse procession was driving really slow from the Mosque so I arrived at the Islamic Cemetery in Burnsville almost an hour before the procession arrived and walked around the different tombstones trying to learn as much as possible about the dead who lay there and it was a disturbing sight. 90% of the tombstones I saw were of kids who were born after 1986………all teenagers…..so and so 1986-2006, so and so 1990-2007, so and so 1987-2006. All teenagers……killed, yes shot dead. I pray for change.

BELOW ARE SOME INTERESTING LINKS:

  1. Today’s City Pages Article that just messed up my mood
  2. Snoop and Amik shooting news
  3. NoorK’s shooting news
  4. Noork Shooting Video
  5. Good times. Video clip with Noork @ a Kilimanjaro Caf’e bash. Towards the end of the clip he has the blue snowhat in big jacket

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