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Wajir town: the mother of many firsts



Perhaps this is an article that begins, O beloved Wajir. The Polaris, the bright star of the north. Yes, you will need sunglasses if you visit! Maybe we continue that Wajir is: The mother of education, The incubator of commerce, that Wajir is the nodal link, the hot beating heart reaching out to the extremities, the owner of extensive trading links connected to Moyale, Isiolo, Kismayo, Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Yemen. The frontier destined to be a beacon of progress. Wajir was a beacon of progress; a visionary place and had a global outlook and reach. A proud mother would say that Wajir was blessed and chosen to be the first: “Waxaa tahay curradkii reerka.”

But cities are not mothered, nor born—though they are prone to death as can any of us. Not to say that Wajir ever had the opportunity to rise above it’s station of humble town or even to die a decent death. The glorious capital of Wajir County, though one acacia, a forest does not make. Dreamy Wajir, the diversity of your people was your greatest asset.

The mixtures of different communities enriched the town and endowed it with a vibrant cosmopolitan oasis where different ideas were grafted in and yielded fruit. The old historical central business district was, quaint, manicured, lined on both sides by well-maintained date palms. Yes, Wajir produced dates both for local consumption and traded it with Isiolo and Moyale!

Yes, You were a place of many firsts: first town to have a proper health facility built, note that health facility is not a district hospital but an early colonial artefact. A gift the gracious Italian POW’s left behind at the end of WW2, though kept, maintained and in use to date. First primary and secondary schools in the region: first madrasa( Al Fatah), the first Masjid Jama’a and the first gorofa, a multi storey building.

It was in Wajir where they built the first permanent residences, where the moving sands and those who moved with them first began to explore foundations and the bleached white of limestone render first replaced the cow pat and woven thatch.

If the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Greek and even the Chinese were to keep suppressing their protests, I would say that you were the pioneer in advancing everything.

Wajir did advance everything in its small corner of the world and all this happened before independence and was accomplished by the people themselves with minimal government input. Wajir was the undisputed leader and pace setter. And because of your people, you never disappointed in the politics too. In the country and region, the pulsing paths of commerce made you an active and impactful player in agitating for the rights of your people. A political voice of reckoning.

You played through the borders, on all sides, knowing the edge to be the sharpest point of the knife. Your leaders were daring and visionary. They were genuine and incorruptible and were prepared to pay any price. The name of Wajir and your plight and destiny rang loud and clear and was heard everywhere. Yes, you were great! You were reliable and dependable. Wa Jeeray kasoo hoyo waraabaha!!!!

From such an auspicious and pioneering background, of course, it boggles the mind to see you reduced to such a pitiful state, never mind that beauty can still shine through a poxed face. Immediately after independence and the ensuing secessionist shifta war that followed you were ravaged; the impact was devastating.

Reer-Wajir understood a time of reckoning and retribution awaited them. The nail that sticks out gets hammered. In this whack-a-mole, you were turned into a concentration camp, corseted and ringed in with razor-barbed wire. You were starved and stunted, your development frustrated, mummified like your cousins in Giza into a perpetual post WW2 time capsule. The thorn tree was reduced to a stump, leaving a land of perpetual operation footing with rings and rings of security and pacification.

In spite of all the obstacles, the constrictions and conscriptions, the massacres you took full advantage of the little opportunity available. You desert tree tapped into your long roots; you prioritised the education of your youth. You never despaired. You survived the empty face of adversity and willed new shoots to spring from whence a stump was left.

After decades of extreme pressure, after the heat under the guise of combating insecurity, after the shifta menace, Wajir licked its wounds, plastered its fractures, dusted itself up and decidedly rose to move forward with resolve and determination.

And …………Ruun Sheg chronicles to continue.


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