For a long time, my home city was in a dark mode. It always felt like a ghost town because there was never a street light, red light or if there would be one, it shone only for a few hours then they would switch them off for some energy saving purposes. Jigjiga is one of the fastest growing cities in Ethiopia and the current speed of its development is unprecedented. A few years ago, a regime that led this region was forcefully stripped of power because they failed us in all spheres of our life. They were brutal murderers who massacred anyone who went against their wishes. It was always sad to be the subject of dictators who don’t have sympathy for their people. I was in uni when these rules of the jungle were in place and “hold your breath” was the order of the day but I felt this pain far from home. All of these things I am addressing here are just the tip of the iceberg. Let your mind virtually list the world’s greatest dictators before you even read the next line.
The peak of our rulers’ hegemony turned their curve slowly to its downfall. In 2018, Ethiopia transitioned from dictatorship to democracy. Well, this may be fluid but at least one could tell, especially people like me who never had a test of democracy. Centuries of political oppression and ethnic favoritism were nearing its end and Ethiopia took a democratic path by surprise. There were successive waves of changes that swept through the country like a wind. Knowing they have done every bad thing, our old rulers decided to do one last act of brutality before they desert their seats – one last act and they burned down one-third of the city. Yes you read that correctly, they set fire to some of the major fuel stations in our city to make the fire spread like a wildfire, and within a few hours of fire ravaging the town, clouds of smoke overshadowed our clear sky turning from blue to plain. A few months later, we rose from the ashes of destruction and built our houses from the remains of rubble and roofs. In the following days, our long-time rulers were gone, some managed to escape, others got arrested and some are still here and we finally let justice serve by itself.
Our city is so underprivileged and much like other Ethiopian regional state cities, when it comes to its city approach, we don’t have the same level of advantages overall. It’s because we are Somalis and Ethiopia is never an ingredient of this breed. If you are still confused about what I mean by this, just think about Indian-administered Kashmir and then get your guesses correct. We are native Somali people occupied and unlawfully ruled by Ethiopia for over 6 decades. Ethiopia can achieve any other thing but turning us to proud Ethiopians is their most distant dream and this is where everything gets wrong in the first place. It’s a war between ethnicity and nationality that fuels this identity crisis. Even though we were legitimately able to thrive in Ethiopia, our inner feelings were the same when it comes to who we are or should be. Talking about this can take me off the topic, you are here to see our streets and I have bombarded you with some history lessons but pardon me, this is how I get to where I want and start my write-up. Without further adieu, here are a few photos of our most recently built roads, and yes from dark to light.