In 2015, an estimated 154,000 migrants entered Europe via the Mediterranean from Libya. Somalis – most of them young men – were among the top five nationalities crossing the Mediterranean during the first six months of 2015. Although much has been written about the rise in migration to Europe and migrant deaths at sea, little is written about the journey migrants take prior to attempting the crossing.
On 14 October 2016, the Rift Valley Forum launched We Kissed the Ground, a first-hand account of a young man’s attempt to migrate to Europe from Somaliland and the hardships of the journey through Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya, a journey attempted by many young Somalis and commonly referred to as tahriib. The story of Mohamed Geeldoon has been described by Nuruddin Farah as a “vivid account of what it is to be a Somali migrant in pursuit of a safer future elsewhere.”
The launch was held during a session on migration at the Somali Heritage Week, a cultural festival organised by the Awjama Omar Cultural Centre in Eastleigh.