Westside Radio has a longstanding commitment to the representation of the views and interests of our diverse local community – naturally the station wants to embrace the vibrant local culture and cater to all sections of our society.
However, these shows can also have a wider resonance, and no show exemplifies this like the Somali Selection Unit. Starting out three years ago it was committed to bringing the latest news, music and entertainment to the local Somali community in West London, but became the beginning of a colossal global movement.
Abdi Shukri Omar (Qararaf), Ahmed Abdalle (TJ) and Zakariah Mohammed (S-Man) as well as the only SUS female member Nasim Golaid were four people from the Somali community of West London who took on the challenge of spreading awareness of the hidden genocide of the Ogaden region of East Africa, home to 8 million ethnic Somalis, today they have been joined by thousands of supporters and volunteers in championing their efforts around worldwide.
It all began when team leader Abdi Shukri flew to Kenya in search of a story, but instead discovered something which was to change the direction of all their lives forever. A chance meeting with a local taxi driver in Nairobi was the catalyst for change – his story opened a window onto a hidden tragedy and led to an international campaign for an end to silent suffering.
Following his revelations, a trip was made to the Northern Kenyan refugee camps of IFO, home to 250,000 survivors of a genocide taking place in the Ogaden region of East Africa. Nothing was to prepare them for the poverty and human suffering they encountered there.
These refugee camps are a result of a relatively little-known conflict between the Ethiopian government and insurgents. Since mid-2007, thousands of civilians have fled from intense widespread military attacks on livestock and villages, seeking refuge in neighboring Kenya. Those who remain there face a direct threat to their survival and exist in a pervasive culture of fear.
The team of British students, galvanized by what they had seen and discovered, had in April 2009 filmed, produced and edited a phenomenal film documentary, ‘Silent Cry’, based on the lives of families and their struggles in the Ogaden region. It was this film that provided the basis – and the name – for a global campaign to raise awareness about the intense human suffering they had seen.
Since that time, the youth of Silent Cry have orchestrated over 50 events worldwide, from Canada to Minneapolis, Australia to South Africa. The global reaction has been phenomenal, and a year from their fateful trip to Nairobi, the team have communicated their message to over half a million people and counting, through various media interviews and high ranking news channels such as the American news network FOX News, Silent Cry was messaged to the masses!
The young British Somalis who started this campaign in their hometown and dreamed of freedom had a vision that they would “knock on every door until the world heard the distress call of the people of IFO”. Given their astronomical success thus far and the international response from thousands, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that they will achieve that goal.
More information about Silent Cry can be found on their website, www.silentcry.co.uk . They also have a twitter ( www.twitter.com/silentcryglobal ) and facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&viewas=0&gid=97669925473 )
The Somali Unit Selection Show is broadcast every Thursday 11am-2pm on 89.6FM, or online at www.westsideradio.co.uk .