Beating the Odds in Puntland, Somalia

Ilkoasse dedicated his life to building peace in northern Somalia. He gave his all to building a world without revenge killings, injustice, corruption, poverty and ignorance.  I learned of this former cameraman, financial whiz, and dedicated coalition builder through Somalian Marian Hassan, who is a participating with me in James O’Dea’s Peace Ambassador training program.

Marian and Ilkoasse worked together with the Puntland Development Research Center, a peace building organization in a north eastern region of Somalia called Puntland.  On April 6th, he was assassinated – a revenge clan killing.  In response to such a loss, I offered to help make a banner that would continue the brave spirit of  Ilkoasse – a visual reminder that there is another way than an eye for an eye. Marian asked for the Puntland flag to be included (a blue strip with a white star, a white strip and a green stripe) which I translated into sky, air and ocean.  She also wanted to include the symbol of their wisdom path – elders meeting under a tree.  I painted Ilkoasse and the elders. When I sent the paintings to Marian, she pointed out that painted images of people are considered to be iconoclastic in her Muslim country, so fellow Peace Ambassador Delia Paraisa of N. Carolina combined the symbols digitally.  She added doves and the earth.  The Somalian words mean, “Without peace, there is no life.”  Now we are looking for a way to get the 10 banners we printed to Nairobi so that the Puntland Development Research Center will have them transported to Somalia, as no mail is delivered to Somalia.

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