Interview with a well-adjusted Somali.
Afrolens: Hi, Thank you so much for taking this interview. It took us about 25 years, some borrowed looping technology from Elon Musk, Waaq, and the translucent vampires from Twilight to find you. But you’re here now, and we’re so excited. Welcome. I’m told there’s only five members left in your community in Somalia, while the global count for well adjusted humans is at 156.
Jamal Jubba: Thanks. I’m honoured to be here. I’ve never done a public interview. I’ve just never had the urge to boast about traits, I consider, to be at bare minimum, the prerequisites for being a decent human being and a Muslim.
Afrolens: That’s a well-adjusted answer.
Jamal Jubba: Thanks, I think.
Afrolens: I’m gonna give our audience a little introduction into some of the details of your history. It says here you’re a 38 year man, who owns a small-business in Falls Church, Virginia, and you live bi-Continentally between the United States and Somalia. You own a chicken farm in Jowhar, Middle Shabelle, which serves as an alternative livelihood for some of the agrarian communities there, where you provide free-range chickens at competitive prices. Your workers are unionized, and you’v’e used some of those proceeds to open a local high-school in the region that provides IB Curriculum, for free.
You’re something else. It doesn’t stop there. You’re engaged to an equally well-adjusted sister who is currently a graduate student at University of Lund, where she’s studying clinical child psychology, as a part of your collective plan to provide mental health services to vulnerable populations in Somalia. It says here you’ve never cheated on her, and there’s no record of you ever gaslighting or emotionally manipulating her. Her friends and family tell me she has healthy relationships with other Somali females. You also think woman can be funny, and have never asked on a social media platform where the hijabs of sisters are. Sir, it’s an honour to meet you sir.
Most of us, products of many decades of war, power dynamics, misogyny, clan warfare, often use our traumas as a tool to hit back at the external world, or sweep it all under the rug. You use a third approach. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Jamal Jubba: I wouldn’t call it a ‘third approach’, or even a calculated system. I came to the United States in 1992, after the collapse of the regime, brought here by two loving parents who taught me the value of community, introspection, partnership, gender equity, and my faith. I was taught at a young age that bad stuff will continue to happen to everyone else on earth and myself, and that the journey to healing is the processing my pain, seeking accountability and not vengeance, and lowering my social footprint.
Afrolens: Social footprint. That’s a fascinating term. Can you expand on that?
Jamal Jubba: Yeah, I can, we spend so much time discussing carbon emissions, we forgot about the toxic social emissions we poison the external world with. Humans often think of themselves as the object in a world where everything and everyone else is the subject, but I believe learning to not centre your narrative can, sometimes be healthy. The world doesn't exist to serve you or your needs.
Afrolens: That kind sounds like shirk. Definitely some new age stuff. Like the modern-day pagans that believe in horoscopes and self-care.
Jamal Jubba: No, it’s not anything like that. It’s just basically being conscientious of the ways webring harm to the world. Whats that cliche saying, ‘hurt people hurt people”. I understand its a lot to ask of folks combatting so much structural oppression, systemic collapse, disintegration of family/community units, and inter-generational trauma, but we often forget the role of personal accountability and introspection in healing and truth.
Afrolens: Wow, that’s powerful. Ok let’s move on. I have a letter from a sister who lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. She writes,
“Dear Afrolens, I want to ask Jamal Jubba for advice on a current predicament I’m in.
I feel there’s a huge disconnect between the ideals we publicly profess, and our lived everyday lives. For example, I believe in social justice, labour rights, and emancipation for historically marginalized communities in Somalia; namely women/children/minorities. I share these values very publicly. But in my every-day life, I enjoy the finer things in life paid for with my exploitative career, I have house-staff that I pay menial wages and abuse, and I don’t like most Somali women, children are annoying, and I’m a closeted tribalist who finds minorities quarrelsome. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I’ve done a wonderful job of convincing the external world that I’m a deeply principled human being, but how do I convince myself? There’s a disconnect that’s beginning to bother me”
What’s your response?
Jamal Jubba: Well, I want to thank the sister for taking the first step to being less of a toxic human being, which is admitting you’re toxic. Yes, absolutely. There’s a sizeable disconnect because you’re trying to reconcile the ‘ought’ and ‘is’. That isn’t a bad thing, as part of our journey of discovery what is ‘good’, what is ‘virtuous’, is aspiring to be those things. We will always come up short, as is the nature of man/women/child.
However, the real problem arises when your ‘ought’ is constructed by what you think others should value. The sister here has made three grave mistakes. She’s never taken the journey of constructing her personal system of ethics, and she’s fail to perform the values she’s plagiarized, and finally, continues to misled others. First step is to ask yourself what do you truly believe in? What are your sacreds? What is your concept of the ‘good’? Is it ideas you borrowed from your generation of families, but do not believe it? Is it ideas that you’ve discovered in the free market of ideas that is the internet, but holds no real value. What are your ethics? Once a person truly has done the work of self-inquiry and scrutiny, I think the implementation part comes easy.
Afrolens: Wow that’s powerful. I have goosebumps. But a lot of our readers are skeptical about the nature of well-adjusted mental state. Are you truly well-adjusted?
How do we really know if you’re well-adjusted? Afrolens has done some serious digging into your online footprint, and we failed to find a single picture of you in a state of euphoria. No pictures of loved ones, your partner in Sweden, your travels, inspiring quotes/passages, your passport/ airplane ticket before a journey, self-care products, joyous moments with friends. Nothing. How do we know all of this isn’t a ruse. Surely happy and well-adjusted people have evidence of this somewhere.
Jamal Jubba: Wow, you’re right. I’ve never been much of a trendy person, and I struggle with self-curation and online performances. But I also think that’s healthy. Pictures help us remember the good moments, it captures our joys, our loved ones in their perfect state. I think that can be a healthy thing too. You’re right. I’m gonna make more of an effort to share more publicly. Connecting with other is an important part of self-discovery.
Afrolens: Oh wow. Umm.. I’ve never seen this before. I lambasted you, and rather than defend yourself, and belittle others who live dissimilar lives, you’ve managed to empathize with other worlds, and learn from it. I’m shocked. I’ve never seen this done.
Jamal Jubba: Umm thanks. I’m beginning to think you’re patronizing me, but I know that’s a projection of my insecurity.
Afrolens: You did it. so well-adjusted. My god.
Last question, Sometimes I oscillate between wanting to hug/support/love every single Somali, and then there are dark and hollow days where I fantasize about a gigantic drone turning us into IKEA Parking lots so all the hurt/dead bodies/ violence can be cemented forever,. Above that hurt while live happy Swedish folks carrying a FARLOV couch. Then after carrying their IKEA furniture, they can drive to the coast and listen to ABBA and Kool and the Gang.
Is there a middle ground between irrationally loving your community or impenetrable rage as a motivating factor to burn it all down? How do you balance the nationalist fervour with the crippling hate?
Jamal Jubba: It’s simple. I don’t fetishize my community and homeland, and I understand the work of rebuilding a state that has never known governance will not be finished in a fortnight. It requires many moving parts to settle, the reconciling of warring communities, and the alignment of competing needs, at the backdrop of a deeply exploitative and fast-changing global power dynamics. I focus on what I can do to fix myself first, and then if there’s any energy left, I think of how to best channel my privileges and qualifications to best serve in the areas where there’s a need and a vacuum.
Afrolens: That’s…Jamal. You’re something else. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. This has been truly a wonderful learning experience.
Jamal Jubba: Thanks for having me, and Soomaaliya ha nolaato.